§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Goodlad.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Secretary of State for Defence, I must announce to the House that I propose to put a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between 11.30 and 1 o'clock. I ask right hon. and hon. Members who are called to speak before that time and afterwards please to bear that limit broadly in mind in consideration of their colleagues.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom King)
I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the debate.
It is clear that hon. Members in all parts of the House are conscious of the problems and dangers involved, and it was encouraging to see the sense of responsibility and the sombre way in which the House approached the debate yesterday. I felt as I listened to many of the speeches that hon. Members had a real understanding of the dangers involved in the situation, that there was a real recognition of the challenge that the world faces at this time, with an appreciation of our responsibility, and that there was real anger at the total affront to law and the shameful treatment of our citizens and those of other countries. Hon. Members also displayed a sense of hope that there is a new determination in the world to stand together in support of international law. I sense complete agreement in the House in that hon. Members recognise totally that this aggression is quite unacceptable and that it cannot lie uncorrected. I am grateful for the wide support that the Government have received from hon. Members in all parts of the House for the action that we have taken so far.
Our immediate concern has been to join in the efforts to avoid further aggression and then to end the present aggression by peaceful means by making the United Nations embargo work. If it does not, then of course we have had to make it clear that we cannot rule out anything. That has been honestly recognised by the leaders of all the parties, first by the Leader of the Opposition, in support of the Prime Minister, recognising that it may be necessary to use force. I note that that was echoed by his predecessor, the former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, in the other place yesterday.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday set out the overall position and she made clear our commitment to the ending of this aggression. I propose to report to the House on the military events, including my own recent visit to Saudi Arabia and to the other Gulf states, when I had the chance to visit all our main units there.
I was struck by the fact that the invasion of Kuwait took place just over a week after I made a statement in the House on our "Options for change" examination of our defence provision. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). I noted his question:Does my right hon. Friend agree that developments in the Gulf over the past few days have made it clear that we may well have to share responsibility for out-of-area operations?" —[Official Report, 25 July 1990; Vol. 177, c. 478.]He said that at about the time that President Saddam Hussein was giving a solemn assurance to the President of Egypt and to the King of Saudi Arabia that he would not 837 invade Kuwait. As we know, it was on the night of 2 August that Kuwait was invaded and that that promise was totally negated.
I want to report first to the House on the events and the military situation in Kuwait. The invasion took place at 2 am on 2 August when three armoured divisions of the Republican Guard force of the Iraqi army crossed the frontier, closely followed later that morning by four divisions of the Republican Guard infantry. Combat aircraft of the Iraqi air force, which total about 800 aircraft, bombed and rocketed Kuwaiti airfields. At the same time, helicopter gun ships attacked Kuwait City and landed at least a brigade of Republican Guard special forces—with light armour—who led the assault on the palace and on the main Government buildings. In all, that force amounted to about 100,000 soldiers, armed with about 1,250 tanks, with many infantry combat vehicles and with artillery.
The Kuwaiti army, which is barely one tenth of that figure, was in a state of alert, but was not deployed in defensive positions because the Kuwaitis did not believe that one Arab country could invade another. The troops who led the invasion were followed by further reinforcements, including some who, according to the reports received, appear to belong to some form of militia and who are extremely ill disciplined.
On 20 August, the Republican Guard force divisions started to withdraw from their forward deployments and were replaced by regular army troops. Only two Republican Guard force brigades are now believed to be left in Kuwait. The forces whom we believe are now in Kuwait are about 10 regular divisions—approximately 150,000 men, 1,500 tanks and 700 artillery pieces. Republican Guard units have been withdrawn to Iraq. It has been the Iraqi practice to withdraw Republican Guard units after an attack. They may now either have been withdrawn to establish a more defensive position or—and the possibility must always be borne in mind—they may have been withdrawn to reform for further aggression.
In Kuwait itself, the Iraqis have strengthened their coastal defences with Silkworm missiles, with a string of infantry divisions and with field artillery units. They have moved their Frog battlefield missiles and a full range of surface-to-air missiles to Kuwait.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
The Secretary of State talks about all the equipment. What have the Government done about the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) last night about the office of the Technology and Development Group of Iraq in London? Given all the information, have the Government closed it?
§ Mr. King
The answer to the first point is no. The hon. Gentleman will know, as comments have been made about arms sales, that for the past 10 years, the Government have refused to offer and sell any lethal equipment to the Government of Iraq. The sale of armaments is obviously the concern of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). We have made clear, as the actions taken recently in a well-known case show, the length to which we have sought to go when clever attempts have been made to evade that embargo.
§ Mr. King
I have sought to set before the House the position that we face and the situation in Kuwait. I know that the House wants to have that information.
I turn now to the response to the aggression. The House knows that there was immediate activity in the United Nations. On the day of the invasion, resolution 660 was passed without dissent, condemning the invasion. Furthermore, on 6 August, resolution 661, introducing the embargo, was passed—again, without dissent. On 8 August, Iraq annexed Kuwait, and on the same day His Majesty King Fahd invited my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to contribute towards the defence of Saudi Arabia. On the same day, the Government confirmed their readiness to play their full part in such a contribution. I want now to report to the House on our various steps to implement and to respond to that invitation from the Government of Saudi Arabia and from other threatened Gulf states.
On the following day I announced that we would be sending a squadron of Tornado air defence fighters and a squadron of Jaguar ground attack aircraft with an anti-tank capability, and that we would be reinforcing the Armilla patrol in support of the United Nations embargo. I announced that on 9 August. On 10 August, the first detachment of tactical communications left. The following day, a squadron of Tornados left and arrived in Dhahran. It was operational within two hours of arrival. About 200 operational sorties have already been flown in support of the air defence shield of Saudi Arabia.
The Jaguar ground support aircraft, deployed from RAF Coltishall on the same day, were, likewise, extremely quick in coming into operation. They have also flown about 200 operational sorties. They are accompanied by VC10 tankers in support of their operations.
The following day, Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft left RAF Kinloss and arrived in Oman on 13 August. They were operational almost immediately after arrival and have been flying sorties since 15 August. An RAF Rapier detachment, deployed at a later stage to Bahrain in support of a further squadron of Tornado GR1 aircraft, which we sent to provide a day and night anti-armour capability, left RAF Bruggen on 27 August. I had announced the previous Thursday that they would be departing. The House will understand something of the pride that one can feel in the professionalism of our armed services. I was in Bahrain the night that they arrived. On the minute that we said that they would come, the whole squadron arrived, having completed seven air-to-air refuellings coming from Germany via Cyprus. A great impression was made in the area not only because of the quality of the aircraft, which were recognised to make an outstanding contribution and to be something that was not available in the American resources for the defensive shield for Saudi Arabia, but because of the professionalism of the way in which they were deployed. We have also deployed to the area RAF Regiment personnel, both in support of the Rapier and in the ground defence task.
In addition, in the Royal Navy, we have had the Armilla patrol in the Gulf since 1980. At the time of the Iraqi invasion, HMS York was already on station, with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Orangeleaf. We gave immediate instructions and HMS Battleaxe and HMS Jupiter steamed to join HMS York. They arrived in the Gulf on 12 August. Since then we have also deployed a minehunter ship, HMS Herald, and further repair ships and support ships.
839 In addition, there has been a logistical build-up to establish effective communications, air and ground defences, and medical facilities, including a field hospital. Britain has made a particular contribution by establishing chemical defence and decontamination units, which will not only support our forces but give training to the Saudi forces. This has been backed up by a massive logistical operation. More than 2 million miles have been flown since the operation was launched, with some 515 sorties of transport aircraft, with an average length of 4,500 miles for each journey. This has been an impressive logistical operation. There are now 5,000 men committed to the undertaking, and I am pleased to say that when I visited the Gulf it was made clear to me in every state to which I went how much our contribution is welcomed, both for its speedy arrival and for its quality and quantity.
All this is costing significant sums. The operating costs of our forces are about £1 million a day, and on top of this deployment and additional costs already amount to some £75 million. We do not yet have accurate details as to how much of these costs are genuinely additional. The funding of such additional costs on defence votes will be considered as soon as possible. We shall contain them within the existing budget if possible, but if supplementary provision is needed the Government will advise the House in the usual way. In the light of certain news today, let me say that we welcome all the support on the ground that our host nations can give us, and some has already been provided, such as free fuel. We shall be discussing cost sharing further with our friends in the Gulf.
§ Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I want to press the Secretary of State on the latter point. It was announced on the news this morning that Saudi Arabia is to pay the costs of the American forces, but we heard no more details. Can the Secretary of State give us more detail? Has there been any proposal about the costs of British forces?
§ Mr. King
I think that the hon. Lady decided what to ask me before I spoke on this point. If she reads what I have said, she will see that I have covered the point as far as I can.
I know that I will take the House with me when I say that it is a privilege to visit our armed forces in the Gulf and to appreciate the speed with which they moved. Many were brought back overnight from leave. The ships Jupiter and Battleaxe were in Penang and Mombasa, and their personnel were on leave with their families. Their leave had to be interrupted on the spot, but the spirit and resilience of those people, often working in difficult conditions, is something to which the House will wish to pay tribute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] In spite of the difficult conditions under which they are working, the morale of every service man I met out there was as high as every hon. Member has learned to expect that it would be. Our forces are ready to play their part.
We are already making a valuable contribution to the defence of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and that was confirmed to me by all those whom I met in the Gulf. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday, some additional forces will be needed and their composition is under consideration. I cannot go further than that. Against the background of some of the figures that I have already given to the House, against the threat that still exists and the overall imperative of ensuring that 840 there is no further agression, that the defensive shield of Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring Gulf states is in place, and that the effective action that we are taking through the United Nations is successful, we believe that that will be necessary.
§ Sir John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
My right hon. Friend knows how highly he is regarded because of the wonderful job that he has done. It may be that we shall soon be committing British troops to fight and possibly die and we are naturally concerned that everything possible should be done for their security. Is there any proposal to have a force commander-in-chief, some sort of force structure and some sort of liaison between the different nations involved in the forces?
§ Mr. King
I should like to continue with my speech because this part is relevant to the intervention made by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes).
Nobody can go to the Gulf without being greatly impressed by the skill and determination of the United States in a time of great need and danger and by the scale and capacity of its forces. The forces include combat and support aircraft of all types, armed air mobile and mechanised formations, a marine corps with elements of three marine expeditionary brigades and a substantial naval force with carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers and frigates. As Secretary Cheney confirmed this morning, the United States has already deployed more than 100,000 troops to the area. This impressive contribution is a key element in ensuring that the shield of defence for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is so strong.
§ Mr. King
I shall not do so, if my hon. Friend will forgive me.
While the United States is making the major contribution, I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that, in addition, two frigates are coming from Australia, troops from Bangladesh, minehunters from Belgium, a destroyer and frigate from Canada, a corvette from Denmark, troops from Egypt, an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and two destroyers from France, frigates from Italy, troops from Morocco, frigates from the Netherlands, a support ship from Norway, troops from Pakistan, a support ship from Portugal, a frigate and two corvettes from Spain and troops from Syria. That represents the largest multinational force since the emergency in Korea, and a major international collaboration.
§ Mr. King
No, I must continue. Many hon. Members wish to speak and I have already given way on a number of occasions.
The forces sent by us and by the United States are there at the invitation of the King of Saudi Arabia and of other 841 Gulf leaders and Governments. We have gone there, as I have made clear, because of the emergency and the immediate need, and to meet the real and imminent threat that, after the almost painless acquisition of Kuwait—so easily done by deceit and the use of overwhelming force—the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states might be attacked next. The Leader of the Opposition and others have recognised that point. Our first aim is to ensure that aggression proceeds no further. We hope that, with the further steps that we are taking to ensure that the shield is strong, relevant and effective, it will hold.
§ Mr. King
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have a chance to make his own contribution to the debate. It would not be fair to many hon. Members who want to speak if I were to give way.
Our second objective is to end the aggression against Kuwait, to see the removal of the Iraqi forces and the restoration of the legitimate Government by peaceful means through the effective and rigorous application of the United Nations embargo. We are engaged in a major effort, not just through our ships in the Gulf, effective though they will be, but through a major exercise involving all Departments of this Government and departments of other Governments equally committed to the rule of law so that we do not leave it to officers and men on our ships to try to operate the naval blockade but enlist the support of every Government in the world who believe in this to ensure that the embargo is effective in every possible way.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the need to tackle the issue of credit. That was a fair point to make. Credit is illegal under the sanctions legislation. Clearly many matters must be addressed because it is vital that that is achieved.
My hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge raised the issue of co-ordination in the Gulf area. United Kingdom forces deployed to the Gulf are under our national command and control. However, given the scale of forces that are there, we need the most effective co-ordination, and that is being achieved in the naval field. When I was in Bahrain, our admiral commanding flotilla 2 was in consultation on the La Salle with the American admiral commanding the American naval forces in the Gulf. We have direct and immediate collaboration with the French, who are there, with the Australians, who are coming now, and with other countries which will make their contributions.
We have had helpful discussions with Western European Union to see how the European contribution can be effectively made. We have a good precedent in minehunting from previous experience in the Gulf, and it is possible that that practice will be pursued further.
The issues are being addressed as a matter of some urgency. I cannot report further to the House on that except to make it clear that it is an issue to which we attach the greatest importance. We are in the closest contact with our allies and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia about these matters.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that there is one matter that urgently needs clearing up. Prince Sultan, the Defence 842 Minister of Saudi Arabia, has said that no forces should be used from Saudian Arabian territory for military action against Iraq without the agreement of the Saudi Government. The American commander on the spot says that he does not know whether that is true, and that is quite an important element of ignorance of the situation. Has that question now been cleared up; and, in particular, in return for the generous financial assistance offered yesterday to Mr. Baker by the Saudi Government, has Mr. Baker agreed that Prince Sultan's views are correct?
§ Mr. King
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman with interest yesterday and noticed that he ceased to quote entirely correctly from the reported conversations, but I can confirm—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] What I am saying in respect of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, is the position. We are not there to attack Kuwait or Iraq. We are there to defend Saudi Arabia and to ensure that the United Nations embargo is effectively implemented. That is the present position, and it is absolutely clear. There is no question about that statement, nor do I experience the difficulty that the right hon. Gentleman may have over that matter.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman has missed the point. The American commander on the spot in Saudi Arabia has said that he does not know what the situation is and that it must be decided between the Saudi and American Governments. Is it the right hon. Gentleman's view that Prince Sultan is correct in saying that an attack on Iraq cannot be carried out from Saudi soil without the agreement of the Saudi Government?
§ Mr. King
General Schwarzkopf is the American joint commander with His Royal Highness Prince Khalid. The position is as I have made quite clear and I do not propose to go further. Prince Sultan has made it clear that there is no Saudi agreement to attack from the territory of Saudi Arabia. The purpose is to defend Saudi Arabia and to make the United Nations embargo work. I shall not go any further than that. As one of my predecessors, the right hon. Gentleman knows the position perfectly well and he knows perfectly well why I cannot go any further.
The House may be aware that, while my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been dealing principally with the vexed and difficult issue of our hostages, I think that the House knows—[Interruption.]—it is not a matter for levity—including the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), that a considerable number of those hostages are non-combatant British service men who were part of the British liaison training team serving in Kuwait. They were not involved in the hostilities. They are properly defined under international law as noncombatants.
843 May I say how pleased I am that this morning a further number of their wives and families have returned to this country. We shall never forget their husbands, some of whom remain in effective captivity and some in hiding. We must take decisions that are necessary for the effective protection of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states and for the ending of the illegal annexation and aggression against Kuwait, but let nobody think that we shall ever forget the very difficult and dangerous situation which they and other nationals of many countries face. The whole House is aware that under the new media facilities our words go out from this House to many strange places, and perhaps to them. I want to say directly—certainly on behalf of the Government and I believe the whole House—that we shall not forget them. We do remember them; we are determined to end the aggression but we are conscious of their plight and their difficulty.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that we got on very well yesterday without sedentary interruptions from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who was not here. Can you persuade him to keep quiet today?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is perfectly true that we had a very good debate yesterday and I hope that it will continue today.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member knows that if the Secretary of State does not give way he must resume his seat.
§ Mr. King
I pay tribute to the sombre and serious debate in the House yesterday. It is what the subject deserves. I mean no discourtesy to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), but he knows, because Mr. Speaker has made it quite clear, that a large number of hon. Members wish, understandably, to speak. I am sorry that I am not able to give way to him, but I wish to bring my remarks to a close.
I have referred to the challenge that we face and to the inhuman treatment of the hostages. It is because of them, and the thousands more who could suffer the same fate if this aggression is not corrected, that that aggression must not be allowed to succeed. All our efforts have to be directed towards making the embargo effective—and quickly. It is the only hope to avoid what otherwise could be an awful and major conflict.
Some try to water down embargo sanctions. There is some quibbling about the implications of sanctions. Those who are trying to exempt certain categories of items, beyond medical requirements, think that, somehow, that will reduce the tension—that, somehow, it will appease and make the situation more easy to resolve. I deeply believe they are misguided. If we undermine the effective operation of sanctions, we shall make more likely the risk of a greater conflict thereafter.
844 I visited Saudi Arabia and the Gulf a week ago. I have also talked this week at the Farnborough aircraft exhibition to visitors from many countries, including many from the smaller countries of the world. They understand the vital principle that is at stake here and the challenge that we face. They have all got neighbours—some much more powerful, some with unfulfilled ambitions. They know that if the rule of law is not maintained in this case, for many of them as well the future could be very difficult indeed. The world must stand together at this time.
We have enough intelligence about what is happening in the world at the moment to know something about the activities of the Iraqi Government and something about their technique of bribes, deceits, promises, credit and threats. All the paraphernalia that they have used will be used again to seek to undermine international unity and strength. Some countries will make very real sacrifices by standing firm on the strength and importance of that principle.
After all the military analyses of this aggression and of whatever plans were made for it have been completed, I believe that Saddam Hussein will be proved to have made one major miscalculation: that he thought that the world would never pull itself together and could never show the strength to stand together in support of international law. I believe that that will prove to have been his great miscalculation. The action that we in this country, together with our friends and allies round the world, have taken in support of our friends in the Gulf has the promise of showing for the first time that the world can work together to defeat this evil. It is to that end that the Government are totally committed.
§ Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan)
The debate so far has been concerned with the need to establish the legitimacy of future action. The role of Parliament is also to ensure that the Executive is accountable to the legislature and its elected members. Today we have the opportunity not only to do that but to express our support to our forces and to those people who will be listening to the debate far beyond these shores and far beyond the capabilities of the television system. We have to recognise that we are being listened to by people who need our encouragement and backing. From the Opposition side of the House I reiterate what the Secretary of State for Defence has just said.
So far we have seen the largest build-up of British troops since the Falklands in what is potentially the most dangerous crisis since the second world war. Labour called for a military presence in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to deter further Iraqi aggression. Labour also called for a naval embargo. The reasons for that were self-evident. We had many of our citizens working in the area; we had long-standing obligations of a commercial and diplomatic nature. What is more, through our presence in Oman, our participation in the Armilla patrol and our base in Cyprus, we had a military involvement and capability of such a long-standing nature that it was inevitable that we would be involved and that our role would increase.
One of the advantages of having a professional volunteer armed service is the greater capability rapidly to deploy those forces in times of crisis. When criticism is made of the inadequacy of the response of other nations, it is often forgotten that we do not have to depend on 845 conscript forces at varying stages of readiness. While some of our troops have experience of this region, it is abundantly clear that the climatic and general living conditions will take some time to become familiar with. That in itself must surely give cause for thought to those who expect an early strike.
One of the major problems at the moment is the number of armchair, studio-bound experts who pontificate on the likely scenarios. It is one thing for the studio sandpit warriors to play their war games. It is quite another for the troops out there and for their families at home.
Much has been made of the offensive and defensive role and capabilities of our forces and kit. Into every increase or change in our commitment are read new twists and turns of military strategy. When additional frigates and mine countermeasure vessels are sent to the Gulf, it is assumed that the build-up is being intensified. It is often forgotten that our ships need replenishment and that our crews need leave. Equally important is the fact that the presence of our ships, and those of our allies, in a potential war zone, where ruthless mining tactics could be deployed, requires the protection of our minehunters and minesweepers. We should not forget that British capability in that role is second to none.
This is not breast-beating nationalism but recognition of the fact that we have the longest coastline and the largest number of ships vulnerable to such attacks in the North sea. The experience and expertise that we have acquired have been put at the disposal of the navies of other countries in the past. We did it with the Armilla patrol; we did it in clearing the Suez canal. It is correct that we are now so involved.
If the naval build-up requires the presence of a British carrier to co-ordinate activities, it should be seen as a straightforward and logical extension of our commitment. The apparent effectiveness of the naval blockade, as evidenced by the Iraqi acquiescence to be stopped and searched, suggests that the naval commitment will be adequate. Indeed, it could be said that there is a case for the phasing of some of the deployments of our allies. Certainly that would assist in avoiding the congestion and traffic jams that could well arise in that part of the world.
The role of our Air Force has been subject to even greater personal computer Clausewitz speculation. Aircraft have been deemed to be defensive or offensive in their capability and it is said that that should be interpreted as an indication of our desire to break this or that United Nations resolution. I do not think that such guesswork can be avoided, but the confusion in people's minds can best be illustrated by the role of the Tornado GR1s, which are normally ground attack aircraft.
To take a scenario to illustrate the need for the preparedness that we have at present, in the event of an Iraqi advance by tanks and infantry there would be a need not only to respond to the ground offensive but to ensure that the necessary Iraqi air cover is eliminated, both by interception and by attacks on their bases, thus denying their future back-up. We must recognise that we have an all-embracing capability, and that we cannot pick and choose.
There has also been considerable speculation about the dreaded use of chemical weapons. We do not know what will happen, but the basing of RAF Tornados at Bahrain 846 will enable us to take out many of the key Iraqi targets. Their aircraft have a radius of 800 miles, and are based 650 miles from Baghdad. They would be capable of attacking the weapon production facilities and deployment sites within their range. That is known to the Iraqis, as it is to anyone else who takes the time to think about it. It is essential to retain a sense of proportion. Certainly the distinction between offence and defence in this context is becoming very blurred, and the Labour party will not seek to deny our forces the capability to defend themselves or to realise commonly agreed goals.
The opinions of the military pundits about the intentions of the United States are equally confused. I feel that we should admire the massive deployment of materials and personnel to which the Secretary of State has referred, and recognise it for what it is. There has been speculation that the build-up has been expressly organised for attack; the best evidence that I have been able to obtain, however, suggests that the United States is a considerable way from such a position. Certainly, the views expressed by Secretary of State Baker about the possibility of a new world order arising from the crisis give the lie to the anti-American propaganda advanced by Iraq, and by the minority in the middle east who seek to split the unity of the international community.
No country—whether it be the United Kingdom or the United States, which has worked so hard to secure international consensus at the United Nations and elsewhere—will sacrifice that consensus as sanctions start to bite by taking precipitate military action. The willingness shown by Morocco, with 1,200 troops, by Syria, with 1,100, by Egypt, with 5,000, and by the Saudis, with nearly 70,000, cannot be prejudiced by the folly of taking action without broad international backing. The meeting between Presidents Bush and Gorbachev in Helsinki this weekend will surely explore the role of the UN military staff committee rather than some half-baked, gung-ho-inspired strike.
As Professor Howard pointed out in The Times yesterday, the destruction of Saddam may well be achieved, but it would be achieved at considerable cost. His thoughtful article concludes:On balance the dangers of initiating war—initiating rather than accepting it if forced upon us—are thus much greater than those of remaining at peace.Our troops will have literally to sweat it out. It will be a game of nerves: we shall have to wait until Saddam cracks, and either attacks or is replaced. It will be a waiting game, and we shall need to ensure that our forces are equipped and supported according to requirements.
§ Dr. Godman
God forbid that armed conflict should break out in that part of the world, but is my hon. Friend satisfied with what the Secretary of State said about the field hospital? Does he believe that, in the event of conflict, those medical facilities will be adequate to deal with the victims of gas attacks and other severely injured personnel?
§ Mr. O'Neill
Frankly, I do not know; I am not in a position to have access to such information. However, the respect that I feel for the British forces and those who lead them tells me that they would not put people into the field without the necessary support. If there is any doubt, the fact that my hon. Friend has raised the matter will give the civil servants in the Box, and others, ample reason to reconsider.
847 We are in favour of giving our troops the support that they need, and we know that there is widespread acceptance of that requirement. Hon. Members who run advice bureaux and visit the clubs in their constituencies this weekend will not be assailed by constituents who want the forces to be withdrawn; they will be approached by the anxious relatives of those whose loved ones are experiencing fear—terror—in the apartments and hotels that are now serving as Iraqi-controlled prisons, or are in uniform, preparing for the worst in some of the most inhospitable conditions on our planet. In the main, they will want and expect us to give our support to ensure that their families are not sold short.
The depth of the anti-Iraqi strength is increasing daily, as is its width. The range of countries, from Europe and around the world, that have sent their forces bears impressive testimony to the almost universal revulsion at the actions of Saddam Hussein. Questions are now being asked about the control of those forces, and the split of responsibilities between the Saudis and the United States is a matter on which we can only speculate. This is not the time, however, to discuss whether the forces should be given blue berets and the kind of United Nations role that we have seen in the past. There is no precedent for that, and I consider it misleading to vest unnecessary and unrealistic expectations in an institution from which we can hope for so much in other respects.
Some feel that there should be a special and specific co-ordinated NATO role. I think that that would be wrong at this time, not least because of the likelihood that Germany and France will not participate. We should not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of through such a diversion.
Inevitably, the United States, by making the largest contribution, will wield the greatest influence. The unity of the opposition to Iraq, however, will require continual nurturing and encouragement from the United Nations. It is to be hoped that its military committee will ultimately provide the international framework within which such exercises could be organised.
We cannot afford to ignore the question raised yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) about the operation of "sod's law" in military action. It would be dangerous to anticipate in too precise, neat and tidy a way the next stage in the scenario, but, for us in the House it is a matter of getting Ministers to answer questions. I do not wish to strike a note of discord, but there is deep anxiety about this: at some stage today, the Government must give us some idea of the role played by the United Kingdom in respect of the economic embargo—for instance, the involvement of the Technology and Development Group. While I freely concede that that group is not engaged in the procurement of arms as such, we have observed that the Iraqis have been able to purchase the building blocks—to acquire the capability and the technology—to undertake weapon production on a scale that cannot be tolerated.
Let us have a clearer answer from the Foreign Secretary than we had from the Secretary of State for Defence: there is far too much speculation, and far too much evidence that we have not policed the area harshly enough. I am not trying to divide the House; I am simply asking for greater clarity. Accountability lies at the heart of that exercise.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
May I raise what many Opposition Members consider to be a 848 fundamental problem? It may have been dealt with already; I was briefly absent from the Chamber a few moments ago.
The problem arises when, over a period, a stalemate develops, and our forces are all in place under the auspices of the United Nations and its Security Council. May we have an assurance that our forces will not engage in offensive action when they have not themselves been attacked, and that any action will be authorised by explicit United Nations resolution?
§ Mr. O'Neill
My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) will be going into that in greater detail later. My hon. Friend has caught me in the last stage of my remarks, but our troops are there, at the express request of the Saudis, to defend them. We are operating there under the auspices of a series of United Nations resolutions. We are not there for offensive purposes as determined at present. My right hon. Friend will refer to this subject in his winding-up speech and will give a better structured answer.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, on the Opposition side of the House we called for a naval blockade. We called for economic sanctions through the United Nations. We support the Government's deployment of forces in the Gulf. We recognise that additional resources may be necessary, but we do not give the Government a blank cheque. As well as information on expenditure, we should like some information on revenue and on what efforts are being made by the Foreign Office to get the sort of assistance from other countries that the United States appears to be receiving, according to this morning's announcement.
Certainly, we have confidence in the Government's military advisers. They have demonstrated their professionalism and expertise. However, it is for politicians and for the House to decide future course of action. War, as Clausewitz said, isthe pursuit of politics by other means".If other means become nessary the House must have its say. Those who seem to assume that the British people do not want firm and resolute action to be taken to liberate and return our people and other hostages, and to ensure that Saddam is not allowed to get away with this aggression, are not listening to what our constituents are saying.
Article 42 affords the legitimacy for the embargo and for military deployment. We all hope that the sanctions will have the desired effect and that the Iraqis will be forced to withdraw they certainly have no record of tolerating failures on their side—but that may not be achieved in weeks; it may take longer. We know that our forces can do their job. Let us hope that the House can fulfil its responsibilities to them and to the country by showing the patience and resolution that the task requires. We can show that by supporting the Adjournment of the House this afternoon.
§ Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)
The hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) struck a chord in the whole House when he talked about amateur strategists and studio war games. I think that the House will agree that the attempted distinction between offensive and defensive weapons is nearly always totally unrealistic.
849 The two impressive speeches from the Front Benches today, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and the hon. Member for Clackmannan, have reaffirmed the virtual unanimity in the House and throughout the world that Saddam Hussein's aggression was an intolerable act and that he must not be allowed to profit from it.
As is customary, the country which was attacked was much better governed and a far better place than its attacker. Whereas Saddam Hussein's Iraq has strong claims to being the most brutal and savage police state or dictatorship in the world, Kuwait, in which I have—or had —an interest is probably the best governed state in the region. An impressive and unimpeachable testimony to that fact is what happened when Iraq invaded. Saddam Hussein wanted to set up a puppet Government and was totally unable to do so. Not one genuine Kuwaiti came forward. There was not one Kuwaiti Quisling. In the last war I think that there was only one European country of which that was true—Poland—so it is a proud record.
Now Saddam Hussein is systematically wrecking Kuwait. He is behaving like the Mongols did in Baghdad 750 years ago. He is taking the whole place apart, destroying lamp standards and removing traffic lights, quite apart from his appalling behaviour to the people of Kuwait and to the foreign workers and residents there. Clearly he must not be allowed to get away with it.
Obviously he thought he was going to get away with it and, on past form, he had good grounds for thinking so. Only the prompt and decisive action of above all President Bush and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister turned his aggression into a disastrous miscalculation. Probably Saddam Hussein's greatest miscalculation was to forget, or not to notice, that the cold war had ended. At almost any other time in the post-war era he could have played off one superpower against another and he might have got away with it. He cannot do that any more.
The prime task of American and allied diplomacy and strategy must be to ensure that the United States and the Soviet Union remain firmly aligned on this issue. That is a key matter and, so far, the omens are good.
I hope that sanctions will do the trick, although it will take a long time, but plainly we cannot rule out the use of force—after all, the other side has already used it. No one can foresee what will, or should, happen but it is clearly overwhelmingly desirable that the next major act of violence should come from Iraq. An American attack, supported by Britain but not by the United Nations, might become inevitable and we have to face that, but it should be avoided if at all possible. The trouble with surgical strikes is that they are not surgical, or they have not been so far. The American bombing of Tripoli clearly demonstrated that.
The political fallout of such an attack is incalculable. Many of the pro-western Governments in the area might be endangered. We should remember that the pro-western Government in Iraq in 1958 was basically brought down by the attack on Suez two years earlier.
The reasons for caution lie in the middle east's recent history. Many countries and individuals have been equivocal about previous acts of aggression or have condoned them. I certainly plead guilty to that over Iraq's attack on Iran 10 years ago.
850 The west's previous equivocations and tolerance of blatantly unjustifiable behaviour, which if it had occurred anywhere else in the world would never have been condemned, explains why so many Arabs support Saddam Hussein, even though they loathe him. Having seen what has happened in Palestine since the war—and indeed before it—most Arabs are inevitably suspicious of the west. Western double standards have been too blatant and too sustained for Arabs to be anything else.
If it is wrong for Iraq to annexe Kuwait which it certainly is—then it was equally wrong for Israel to annexe the Golan Heights, Arab Jerusalem and its surrounding area, to which it has no conceivable right. Yet what did the west do? Nothing. Or rather the Americans did something —they effectively subsidised that annexation for more than 20 years. Similarly they have effectively subsidised the brutal and illegal occupation of the west bank and Gaza for all that time. Women and children have been shot, houses blown up, men deported, land stolen, water stolen, and thousands imprisoned without trial. A far higher proportion of the Palestinian population have been imprisoned by the Israelis than the black population by the South African Government, and the two situations have much in common.
§ Mr. Stephen Day (Cheadle)
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. Does he not accept that there is a distinct difference between the situation on the west bank and the Gaza strip—however distressing that may be and however understandable the plight of the Palestinians? That occupation came about as the result of an unwarranted attack by Arab nations upon the state of Israel.
§ Sir Ian Gilmour
That is quite untrue. The 1967 war was begun by an attack on Egypt by Israel. I can only refer my hon. Friend to General Rabin, who was the commander of the forces at the time and therefore might be considered to be fairly authoritative on the subject. He said that he thought that President Nasser had no intention of attacking.
The situations are not exactly the same, but clearly what has been going on—the illegal occupation of Gaza and the west bank—is intolerable, and yet the United States responded to South Africa's actions by bringing sanctions and responded to Israeli actions by giving them dollars—$4 billion per year. It is no wonder that the PLO and so many Palestinians have supported Iraq. I regret their decision deeply and I believe that they were disastrously mistaken, but I also understand it. It may even have been unavoidable. America's behaviour has driven the Palestinians into the arms of a brutal dictator.
It was greatly encouraging to hear James Baker tell Congress last week that America now accepts that regional stability in the middle east must include a settlement of the Palestinian issue. He said that a resolution of the current threat should become the springboard for renewed efforts to resolve all middle east conflicts,including the festering conflict between Israel and its Palestinian and Arab neighbours.That must be right, and I only wish that sentiment had been a greater part of the allied case since the beginning. I dare say that Mr. Peres and much of the Israeli Labour party would agree, but obviously Mr. Shamir and the current right wing Israeli Government will do everything that they can to prevent such an outcome.
851 The last month has been frustrating for the Israeli Government because it has demonstrated something that many of us have always known—that the idea that Israel is an important American ally is wholly untrue. Israel is an ally that America cannot use. If Israel becomes involved, the whole allied operation will be wrecked, so it is important that Israel be kept out of it. One hopes that the rumours that the Israelis would like to destabilise King Hussein are untrue and that the Americans will prevent anything of that kind happening.
With the tyrannies of eastern Europe and elsewhere coming to an end, and with President de Klerk making courageous and successful efforts to bring a civilised system to South Africa, Israel cannot be allowed to be the odd man out. After Kuwait has been liberated and decency has been restored there, justice must at last be given to the Palestinians.
Mr. Eric S. Heller (Liverpool, Walton)
The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) is absolutely right in his remarks concerning Israel's position. I was one of the first members of Parliament to enter Israel after the six-day war. Whether or not one likes it, the fact remains that territory not under Israel's control prior to that war is now under its control, and has been since that time. We cannot get away from that. When some of us put it to the Israeli authorities at that time that they were creating a dangerous situation for the future, they said that it was merely a question of using the territory in negotiations to achieve peace and secure boundaries. Some of us warned them then that might not happen, because the longer that Israel remained in those territories, the greater would be the demand from the right wing in Israel for them to be incorporated into the state of Israel. Who can say that we were wrong?
No one is suggesting—certainly not my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)—that Saddam Hussein's action in entering and taking over Kuwait can be justified. It is only unfortunate that many in the west have only just discovered that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. Some of us have argued that for a long time, and have warned that his actions were such that he should have been condemned by the world, as other dictators should have been condemned by the world.
Yesterday, I raised the question of the destruction of the Kurds by chemical weapons. That did not occur on just one occasion. When it first happened, no one took the slightest notice. The only reason why notice was taken in 1988 was that the Kurds showed television crews what had happened. Saddam Hussein has been operating a policy of destroying the Kurdish population for a long time. Thousands of Kurds have been killed, yet very little was done about that. The United States of America did its utmost to see that the matter was not discussed at the United Nations. That was a disgraceful action and we should not forget it.
Because I made a statement three or four weeks ago that Parliament should be recalled, I received letters saying, "Obviously you are on Saddam Hussein's side." Similarly, I received letters when I commented on the action that the Government allowed to be taken in Gibraltar, saying that I was on the side of the IRA. I have never been on the side of Saddam Hussein, the IRA, or of any force of that kind—and I never will be.
852 Some of us spent a long time in the forces in the last war. Some of us had very distinguished records, while others of us had not so distinguished records. That does not matter, because we all bear in mind that we lost many of our friends. I shall never forget them. It is emotional for me because I remember them now. They included youngsters with whom I went to school. I have lived on borrowed time, like all of us who were in the forces. I think also of the civilians who were killed. Look what happened to our cities—London, Liverpool, Coventry and Belfast. We should remember the destruction that occurred and the killing of thousands and thousands of innocent civilians.
We had to fight that war, but Hitler was not Saddam Hussein, and Saddam Hussein is not Nasser. At least Nasser genuinely believed in a united Arab nation. Saddam Hussein is not in that category, but that still does not mean that we should want to see war come about in the belief that that is the only answer. I passionately do not believe that it is the only answer. I believe that the answer is to begin to talk and to negotiate.
I am an old shop steward, and whenever I went into a battle, I made certain that I left a door ready to be opened. If you close the door behind you, sometimes you cannot get out of the situation. I believe that we must have a door ready to be opened in the present situation—a door that will give Saddam Hussein some chance of saving some face, so that the problem can be solved by negotiation and not by war. If there is war, who knows where we shall end up? I do not know, and no one else knows. Perhaps the war would be over quickly, like the Galtieri situation.
No, I am not giving way. This may well be my last speech in this House. I do not know.
We must talk in order to find a solution without going to war. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the M ember for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) and with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield that there should be no question of going to war unless that is agreed by the whole of the United Nations. We should all agree on that if we cannot agree on everything else.
The last point that I want to make concerns the damn hypocrisy of some of those involved. The Secretary of State for Defence says that we stand by the law. I am old enough to remember Suez, when there were campaigns throughout the country using the slogan, "Law, not war". Then, we were, quite rightly, standing by the law, but what has happened in the past in relation to the United States? What law did America call up when it invaded Grenada or Panama? What law did it call up when it undermined the elected president of Chile and helped to get him murdered? What law did it call up when it assisted the Contras in violent means against the Nicaraguan Government? What sort of law is that? That is not law; that is interests. That is imperial interests. What worries me is whether we are going to Saudi Arabia to fight for the rights of the Kuwaitis and the people of Iraq who have been oppressed for so long—
Yes, they still are oppressed. Where were Conservative Members when the likes of me were working hard to assist those people? Selling weapons.
An American senator has said that if Iraq was only growing carrots, America would not be interested. Of course it would not be. It is a question of oil and oil interests. It is capitalist oil interests. It is imperialist oil interests. That is what worries me. I want peace. I want the people to be free and genuinely free. I do not want us to be rushed into a war because of the oil companies.
§ Mr. Michael Mates (Hampshire, East)
No one could fail to have been moved by the sincerity of the remarks of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller), particularly in the earlier parts of his speech. We may often have disagreed with his sentiments, but never ever have we doubted that he speaks with total sincerity. He holds his views as passionately and as genuinely as we hold ours.
Two wholly admirable things have happened since 2 August. The first has been the Government's response—measured, calm, wise and underlyingly tough—to the invasion of Kuwait. I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary, neither of whom have put a foot wrong during this difficult time. They deserve our thanks for the way in which they have handled the crisis. That has been the major factor in explaining to a confused British public what we are doing. That is the message that will go out from a nearly united House during the past two days of debate. It will need to be explained again and again during the coming difficult months.
The second thing that has happened has been the genuineness and totality of the international response. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State listed those countries that had responded in kind to the international call for help for Kuwait. He did not mention the contribution of Greece, and I am sure that that was inadvertent. I was in Greece earlier this week when the frigate Limnos sailed. It was touching to see the pride of ordinary Greek people that they, for the first time since world war two, were taking part in an international call. Turkey's response has also been bold and brave. I hope that it is not too much to ask that, now that we find those two fellow NATO members on the same side with common interests in the dispute, they may be helped to solve some of their own problems.
We must also give credit to the Government for their handling of our relationships in the Gulf during the past decade, in particular our defence relationships with those states with whom we have been close for many years. The Select Committee on Defence was fortunate enough in 1986 to go to Oman to look at exercise Saif Sareea—a reinforcement exercise of massive proportions by the British in response to a call from the sultan for help in accordance with the defence agreement that we have with that country. It was the first time that the Tornados had been flown non-stop from Britain to the middle east, and that was considered a fine achievement then. I have no doubt that it has helped to make the arrangements easier and the path smoother for those who have had to carry out the reinforcements in the past weeks.
But in a way that has been the easy part. It is difficult technically to respond to a crisis, but no one is in any doubt that the job must be done. The service men, 854 civilians, Ministers and Government will get on and to it. From now on I believe that it will get much harder, because we must be prepared for a long haul. Our service men are out there in conditions of acute discomfort. So are the service men of the United States and the others who have responded. How we are to sustain them over the coming months is a difficult logistical matter. Moreover, in the long term, it will also be expensive. Those who were arguing only a month ago for the peace dividend to be doubled or trebled by Christmas must now be eating their foolish words uttered in this place.
Not only will it be difficult to provide a tolerable standard of living for our troops, but we shall have to consider rotating them. Some who will have been there for about five months by Christmas will have to be brought home and others sent in. It will be a complex matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and all in the Ministry of Defence to maintain our commitment at the level that is thought right and, at the same time, to maintain the living conditions, the spares that will be required, training requirements, ammunition, fuel and all the other things that are necessary during what will be a difficult and dangerous period.
I shall not fall into the trap that many others have avoided of being an armchair strategist. I simply point out that there will be a tough time ahead for the Ministry of Defence, the Government and the Chancellor, who, certainly in the short term, will have to find rather more help for the defence budget than he thought when he did his sums at the beginning of the year. I am sure that he will do that with all the relish of his predecessors when they were faced with similar crises.
Naturally we are focused on the one event and the one job that our services have to do at the moment. But this is not a bad moment for some of us to stand up and remind the House of our long-term defence requirements. Just two months ago we had a two-day defence debate. From the Opposition we heard cries of, "Not enough cuts. Why aren't you sending the whole lot home? Why have we still got troops in Germany? Why haven't you wrapped the whole thing up? Everything is over. We do not need them any more." Once again, those are words for eating.
Mr. Elliot: Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)
Why do we need them in Germany?
§ Mr. Mates
Our troops are performing an important role in Germany and I would put a lot of money on a large slice of them being deployed in the Gulf between now and Christmas. That is why we need them there. There is certainly no room for them in this country. The hon. Gentleman's remark is born of complete and utter ignorance.
The problem remains. My right hon. Friend has had a shot at casting the future shape and size of forces during the next couple of years. He was reluctant to go further than he thought was prudent, and, my goodness me, how right he was. Now we must look at the sort of contingencies out of area and our defensive capability for the rest of the decade.
The one thing that we should say now is that it is even more urgent than it was two months ago that NATO should decide the way in which it believes that Europe needs to be defended over the coming years. Until we have had the options for change from NATO headquarters and from the other European Governments, and until we have 855 discussed those and agreed upon the shape of the residual forces to remain on the continent of Europe, which will be much fewer than they are now—it is the size and shape that matter——we cannot do a sensible job in planning the adequate size, shape and reserve forces so that we can come to the aid of our friends should contingencies arise elsewhere in the future, as they will.
Over the past 30 to 40 years, we have coped with all of those on the back of the major commitment to NATO —we have drawn from that. If, as I believe, the future contribution to NATO is to be much smaller, that will mean that the flexibility to respond quickly and adequately to calls for help inevitably will be much harder to manage, and that is the balance that we must get right in the future shape of our forces.
To that end, I hope that the Government will press our NATO allies to produce a sensible plan for the future defence of Europe, very much sooner than later, so that we can ensure that with our residual forces we will always have the capability to go to the help of friends, as we are doing now so admirably and so well.
§ 11 am
§ Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)
As I wish to be punctilious, I should declare the remotest of interests in that I am an unpaid member of the advisory board of Royal Jordanian Airlines. I do not have any shares in that company.
I wholeheartedly support yesterday's speeches by the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock)—and as it is some time since I could last say that, I am rather pleased about it. I welcome the fact that the Government are considering sending a contingent of ground troops, which I always thought should be an ingredient of our contribution. I echo what the Secretary of State for Defence said about our troops. I congratulate the Americans on the speed and skill with which they have built up their forces.
Before coming to the main part of my speech, I wish to touch upon a couple of points that have already been raised in the debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) asked the Secretary of State for Defence about the possible differences in interpretation of Prince Sultan's remarks. Does the Secretary of State think that Prince Sultan's remarks would apply to American seaborne forces, which are not on the territory of Saudi Arabia and therefore could mount a massive air attack and seaborne invasion? Would Prince Sultan's remarks apply to such an operation? I should be grateful if the Foreign Secretary could deal with that point during his reply.
The second point arising out of the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence was his statement that there was no question of an embargo on medical supplies for Iraq, which I fully support. However, I was alarmed that he said nothing about food. In the long run, I do not think that public opinion in Britain, in the remainder of Europe or in north America will endorse the west attempting to starve the Iraqi people into submission. I have no doubt that there will be premature and hyperbolic diatribes from Saddam Hussein claiming that babies are short of milk and that people are starving long before that is the case. However, a deliberate policy to starve the Iraqi people into submission will not work. We must remember what happened immediately after 1945 when the war came to an end: the troops in Germany refused orders not to supply 856 food to the defeated population. Such a policy is not sustainable and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will assure us that food, as well as medical supplies, is exempt from the blockade.
Thirdly, I wish to touch on a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer), who has left the Chamber. He referred to oil supplies, which is one of the crucial elements in the current position. It would be a mistake to say that we are defending oil supplies in the interests of the oil companies. If the oil supplies in the Gulf are destroyed and the western world loses 40 per cent. of its supply, the oil companies will not suffer—they never do. Those who will suffer will be the old-age pensioners and the single-parent families in the constituencies of every hon. Member; it is their heating bills that will rise. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with our being in the middle east to protect our access to oil supplies.
I cannot imagine Iraq provoking an armed clash at this moment. I cannot even perceive it sending aircraft into Saudi air space. I cannot perceive it trying to provoke a confrontation on the waters of the Persian Gulf. I am afraid that we are committed to a long haul—that is, if we do not rely on starvation. It could be 12 months before the Iraqi economy finally grinds to a halt. There is a great danger of the west focusing exclusively on Saddam Hussein. I hope that no wild people in any country are trying to assassinate him behind the scenes. I do not want him to become a martyr. If he falls, who will follow? As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said yesterday, it could be someone a great deal more unpleasant even than the unpleasant Saddam Hussein.
If it is a question not just of getting rid of the leadership but of getting rid of the Baath socialist regime, how do we do that without sending tanks all the way to Baghdad? I cannot imagine that the Government or the Americans would conceive such a policy. Surely our objective must be not, in the words of the Foreign Secretary, just to wipe the smile off Saddam Hussein's face, but to ensure that no one in Iraq—Saddam Hussein or any successor—will in future have the power or the wish to deploy nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional weapons. Whoever is in power in Iraq, there will be a burning sense of grievance about the lack of access to the Persian Gulf. Whoever is in power, there will be a continuing bitter envy of the wealth of Iraq's more fortunate neighbouring states. Both those sentiments are widely understood and supported throughout the Arab world, not least in countries whose leaderships are supporting United Nations actions.
I greatly welcome the call by the Soviet Foreign Secretary Mr. Shevardnadze for a middle eastern peace conference. It is a great opportunity in this crisis. It should deal with at least four matters. First, there must be some territorial adjustments. I will not speculate on what they should be, but it is clear that the territorial boundaries drawn up, almost in a fit of oversight, by imperial powers after the first world war are not tolerated by the people in that area. Secondly, there must be—and I recognise that it is easier said than done—a regime for the inspection and the control of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons throughout the middle east. That will be worth quite a high price. If we seek to impose such a controlling regime on Saddam Hussein, the Israelis also will have to accept control and inspection of whatever facilities they may possess, as will President Gaddafi. We cannot expect the 857 Israelis to lower their guard towards the east and also towards the west without some assurance in both directions.
Thirdly—and The Times sneered at this the other day, and I was glad that the Foreign Secretary picked up the point—we should try to achieve a self-denying ordinance on sales of conventional armaments from the major arms-exporting countries dealing with that part of the world. I have said that many times in defence debates. Not many people have paid much attention to the argument, but now that we are looking over the edge of the abyss it is possible that something along the lines that I have suggested could be done. However, it would have to embrace not only the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union but China, Brazil, South Africa and other arms-exporting countries.
Fourthly, I think that there is a need for an Arab development fund through which the rich Arab states would commit themselves to major cross-border transfers of wealth. Those transfers would be based not on the political attitudes of the recipient countries but on the needs of the inhabitants of those countries. Such commitments should be made for 10 or 20 years ahead.
I would rather see a neutered and controlled Saddam Hussein—one whose people's long-standing grievances were being addressed by the international community—than a Saddam Hussein who was a martyr figure. I am confident that negotiations are going on behind the scenes, even if Her Majesty's Government are not party to them. I hope very much that that is so, anyway. Negotiations can have a hope of success only if sanctions are persisted with and military preparedness is maintained. We all pray not, but military means may have to be used. It is for that reason that I shall be supporting the Government this afternoon.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
The debate has proved how right it was that Parliament should be recalled. I was never in doubt from the beginning that Parliament would need to be recalled. The only question was when that should be. I think that the Government have achieved exactly the right timing. They have given an opportunity for the House to have a first-hand report on matters that are of great concern to us all. It has been provided with the opportunity for hon. Members to make some wide-ranging speeches. If the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) were in his place, I would say to him that, although I disagreed with a great deal of what he said this morning, I hope that we have not heard his last speech in this place.
I am sure that all of us were glad to hear the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, which began the continuation of the debate this morning. I thank him and, through him, all the British forces who are involved in what has been, in every way, a most convincing, prompt and correct response. I say to my right hon. Friend that our thanks should be conveyed to those who have been involved in the diplomatic discussions, which will continue to take place. Those involved should be thanked for the part which they have played. I refer especially to what has been done in the United Nations and the contribution that Sir Crispin Tickell has made so 858 forcefully. That deserves to be recognised across the Floor of the House. I am sure that it is agreed by all my right hon. and hon. Friends and by most Opposition Members that Ministers, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and all others involved, deserve the thanks of the House for their handling of a difficult and unexpected situation.
It would be wrong for us to attempt to magnify out of proportion our own contribution. We are not the only country involved. We must recognise what has been done by America and President Bush, and the part that American forces are playing in the defence of Saudi Arabia. The reduction of the military threat in the Gulf is of enormous importance; there is no gainsaying that.
The debate provides us with the opportunity to make it clear to the country generally, and to the individuals who are involved, that the hostages are not forgotten. I have never been more disgusted by anything that I have seen on television than the sight of Saddam Hussein fondling the heads of the children he was using as human shields. He was like some storekeeper fondling the wares on display in his bazaar. I hope that that is understood by those who were responsible for that disgraceful abuse of human rights. I refer to the rights of our own people and all others who are involved. Hostage-taking and hostage exploitation have no part in international relations at any level. The sooner that they are eliminated the better it will be for us all.
I want to be as brief as I can, so I shall concentrate on only one theme, from which some of the preceding speeches may have diverged slightly. I wish to focus on the overriding logic of the position that faces us. We are all agreed throughout the world that aggression must not succeed, and that means that Kuwait must be liberated. There is no room for compromise and no room for negotiations. We all agree, too, that the primary means of achieving that objective should be the embargo and the sanctions which the United Nations has authorised. They must be made effective. There must be a solid embargo. There must be no loopholes and no evasion. We all hope that those means will bring Saddam Hussein to his senses, so that he understands that the world is against him and that the fruits of his aggression must be given up.
All of us know, however, that there is a limit to the period during which sanctions can be expected to achieve their objective. There may well come a time when we have to say that sanctions have not worked. If that time comes, clearly the military option cannot be ruled out. It is important that from this moment on we do not let Saddam Hussein forget that. The alternative is too awful to contemplate. It would mean the humiliation, defeat and collapse of the United Nations structure. If Saddam Hussein gets away with his aggression, we are back to the unpleasant experiences that led to the collapse of the League of Nations. We cannot allow that to happen again. The credibility of the United Nations is on the line. I believe that the potential use of force is already embodied in the resolutions and articles that the United Nations has as its authority. There can be no compromise about that.
Perhaps it has not been stated as clearly as it should that the resolution of the crisis which was caused by Iraq lies in the hands of Iraq. Iraq can withdraw from Kuwait. It can agree to submit to international law and order. The people of Iraq must never be allowed to forget that. We may think —we may be right—that Saddam Hussein is deaf to reason and that he is a man with whom it is impossible to argue. We should not take it for granted, however, that everyone 859 in Iraq is immune to reason. I hope very much that when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary contributes to the debate he will say something about the propaganda war, which has been going on for some time. There is an urgent need to put across through the media in Britain, and internationally through the BBC World Service, the message that none of us wants to be forced into war and that it is up to Iraq to ensure that that does not happen.
§ Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)
I shall first tell the House of the disgust and anger on Tyneside at the murder of Douglas Croskery and the inability to recover his body after a decent period. That anger persists; it is real and can be sensed in any conversation in any club, pub and anywhere where people congregate on Tyneside. There is a strong feeling that those who perpetrated that crime and were compliant in it should be brought to justice.
I entirely agreed with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) and the Secretary of State for Defence when they paid tribute to our forces stationed in the Gulf. The conditions in which they work, the atmosphere, the desert and the humidity corrode men and machines. Therefore, it is obvious that individual machines and men cannot be expected to serve there for long periods, but will need to be rotated. The remarks of the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates) about further deployment and rotation, and their cost, need careful consideration by the House. I was a little concerned when the Defence Secretary seemed to imply that all those costs could be found within the existing defence budget. As a member of the Select Committee on Defence I shall have ample opportunity to question him on his thoughts and pursue the matter, and I shall do so.
I was deeply concerned this morning to see the reports of the potential for cholera among the refugees in no man's land. I welcome the additional £2 million that the Prime Minister announced yesterday, but my impression is that aircraft, trucks, and people to pilot both, are needed more than money. We must get the residents of the Indian sub-continent, Egypt and Palestine back to their countries and we must get supplies to them. There is ample evidence to suggest that supplies exist but are not reaching the proper destinations. Red Crescent and the Red Cross have made appeals, to which we should respond as a nation and call on our European partners, particularly those not making a great military contribution, to weigh in and do something quickly.
§ Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
I am grateful to the hon. Member. Does he agree that the refugee problem on the border of Jordan is perhaps the greatest threat to the stability of that country, which has been a true friend to us in the past?
§ Mr. McWilliam
I agree with the hon. Gentleman and feel particularly sorry for Jordan, which has an awful strain to bear. King Hussein has done his best. He tried to mediate in circumstances in which it was virtually impossible. He has been rebuffed and left with a problem on his doorstep that is not his responsibility—Jordan could not afford to deal with it anyway.
I do not understand why the Technology Development Group has not already been closed down. Its doors should be locked and barred, and the people sent out. I hope that when the Foreign Secretary replies he will have told his 860 people in the Box to have that done so that he has news to give us. Frankly, there is no excuse for the continued existence of that organisation in London; it should be removed forthwith.
I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make an early announcement about a windfall profit tax on the oil companies. I have grave suspicions that movements in the price of petrol at the pumps do not truly reflect the reality of what is happening to the world price of oil.
Although we face a terrible situation, the potential for good is there. For the first time, both the Warsaw pact countries and the western countries are united in the United Nations in condemning naked aggression. For the first time, a truly international blockade has been set up and, for the first time, can be properly policed. Great good could come from that.
I echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, and agree that good can come only if the practical politics of the crisis are explored as well as the legal niceties. We must bring the rest of the United Nations along with us and not be prepared to take unilateral action. That being said, we should not give any comfort to Saddam Hussein by suggesting that military means will not be employed if the sanctions are unsuccessful. We should make it plain to him that we shall seek to use military means if the sanctions are unsuccessful and he does not remove his forces from Kuwait. We should put that beyond any doubt.
The crisis focuses our attention on the chemical and biological warfare talks and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty renewal talks. It shows the urgency for concluding treaties on both. It shows the urgency, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) said, for a proper and intrusive inspection regime, particularly, but not only, in that region. It underlines the fact that dragging our heels, as we did on the chemical talks a couple of years ago, was not the right decision then.
I hope that the House will not rise today without expressing its thanks to all those people who have worked so hard to get the place ready for us to hold this most important debate. I was here on Monday when the place was a shambles; it was marvellous when we came in yesterday and, on behalf of us all, I thank those responsible.
§ Sir Michael Marshall (Arundel)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) and I shall make specific suggestions about giving assistance to international refugees on the ground which follow directly from some of his points.
I hope that the House will understand if I make my remarks today in the context of work within the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which I hope to demonstrate is of direct relevance in trying to involve the maximum number of parliamentary colleagues from both sides of the House and the other place in seeking to carry forward the continued resolutions of the IPU. Those resolutions concern the development of democratic institutions and, above all, the peaceful resolution of conflict.
I wish to report to the House immediately that the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union has joined the IPU in Geneva in sending resolutions to the Speaker of 861 the national assembly of Iraq calling for the effective adoption of UN resolutions, involving withdrawal from Kuwait and the release of hostages.
When we consider the background, one of the first things we should try to do is to understand precisely the democratic position in Kuwait, about which there has been some rather loose talk of a condemnatory nature which does not fairly reflect on the true history and ambitions of Kuwait.
You, Mr. Speaker, will recall that, as part of our work in encouraging democratic development, in 1983 you received the Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Council in a period when Kuwait was a member for 18 years, during the past quarter of a century, of the IPU.
There has since been a hiccup and that national council was suspended in 1986. But last June there were general elections in Kuwait and in July the general secretary of that council applied to the IPU to seek reaffiliation to membership. So the burgeoning process of return to democracy in Kuwait was cut short, as were many aspects of life in that country, by the appalling violations of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi forces at the beginning of August.
§ Sir M. Marshall
I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman because I am anxious to keep to the spirit of the 10-minute speech rule which comes into operation shortly.
What can we do to try to foster contacts and dialogue not only with Kuwait but with all the other Arab countries that stand four square with us now? We are planning, through the offices of the IPU, to bring forward a visit that we had planned to make to the United Arab Emirates on the return of the House, and to add to that visit visits to neighbouring territories, subject to consultations already in hand with Her Majesty's Government and leaders of the Opposition parties.
In addition, at the IPU conference in Uruguay next month we shall not only be counting heads but taking the opportunity to hold discussions with other countries directly affected by the crisis. Recognising that there are some countries with which we have no diplomatic relations, we now have an opportunity to pursue relations with countries with which there is no direct Government contact. I will not specify the countries concerned, but hon. Members will appreciate that there will be opportunities to open dialogue with some countries with which we have had difficulties and in which the present situation perhaps allows new initiatives to be taken in the wider international and bilateral interest.
All such measures will take time and will have to be deployed as the situation develops. I am concerned about what we can do in the short term, and I stand four square with the thrust of the debate and what has been said from both Front Benches. I, too, wish to consider the plight of the hostages and refugees. I hope that when he replies to the debate, the Foreign Secetary will give a situation report on our nationals and the progress that has been made in achieving their release.
I wish to consider a wider aspect in relation to the international hostages who, as the hon. Member for Blaydon said, are in no man's land. I make my remarks in 862 the context of much of the thinking that is going on in parliamentary circles, in the IPU and the UN, about ways in which the so-called peace dividend can be employed and how the military establishment of many countries can channel their resources for disaster relief.
That whole issue was aired at a conference in London in July. Countries are increasingly considering the matter because it is a way in which east-west dialogue can consider, for example, the whole question of what happens to forces from within former Warsaw pact countries and the way in which they can be channelled to provide effective assistance, and I shall make a few suggestions on the subject.
In view of that background, we should use NATO as our natural link and offer facilities through NATO—through the direct link that should be established with the UN disaster relief organisation—to seek agreement for the provision of assistance on the ground. I am thinking in terms of the military's access to communications and transport and its inbuilt facilities for the supply of medicine and food.
Perhaps we could look to NATO's secretary-general to convene a meeting, under the civil emergency procedures that are part of NATO's statutory procedures, to provide an opportunity to maximise the immediate deployment of people and resources to those from many countries now in Jordan who are grievously affected.
We should also seek, through dialogue with other parliamentarians, parallel meetings with Warsaw pact and other non-CSCE countries to see what part of their military facilities could provide that type of civil resource. All can play a part, but it is obvious that in such a wider international collaboration there could be special opportunities for countries such as Germany and Japan, where the inhibitions placed on them for the provision of direct military forces on constitutional grounds could be set aside in respect of the type of aid and direct assistance to which I am referring.
Under the United Nations disaster relief organisation we could, in using the military in the way that I am describing, introduce urgent steps to airlift relief supplies, and perhaps they could be dropped near to the refugee areas in Jordan. I support the suggestion, made earlier in the debate, that such facilities should be used as part of the airlift, which I trust we can deploy, to bring people out of the area.
Perhaps we could look to Cyprus, by agreement with the Government of that country, and the use of the British bases there, to provide a staging post, not only in the relief process but to get people out of the affected area as an interim step to returning them to their countries of origin.
In those ways, there will be opportunities not only for us to be seen to be acting in concert, but for us to work within the wider concept of the United Nations decade of international disaster relief, which began this year. I hope that we can move towards some plan and progress, which may be discussed when we have meetings at the United Nations special session with the IPU on 4 October and when the overall review takes place at the United Nations international day for natural disaster reduction on 10 October.
I have deliberately sought to be as brief as possible. I have used only headlines to put forward the way in which my mind is working. However, I am also reflecting the views of the officers and of those members of the executive of the IPU whom I have had the opportunity to consult. 863 If we can provide a peace dividend such as I have suggested, we shall begin to move to something that will have lasting value in the long term and that will also meet the immediate and desperate needs in the short term.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)
Like the hon. Member for Arundel (Sir M. Marshall), I will speak with headings. We have 10 minutes each, so I will not develop some of his points that are worth developing. I hope that he will forgive me.
I am glad that the House has been recalled. I believe that it should have been recalled earlier, given the serious events in the Gulf. It is right that the Government should report to the House of Commons and that we should carry out our job of questioning and probing the Executive. I want to do that briefly.
On the major issue, I will vote for the Adjournment, but I will vote on matters as they are. As events develop—and they will—it may well be a different matter. I can only make a judgment on matters so far and I will vote on that basis.
There are two issues on which I can touch only briefly. I have recently come back from India, Hong Kong and western Asia. Two matters arise there. It is not my scene, but I detected that there is a strong growth of Muslim fundamentalism. If we act wrongly with our forces and in the United Nations, we may generate a strength of feeling throughout the middle east and more widely that will undo our good intentions. When we look at the world from this country we sometimes do not understand that. I certainly did not. We ignore that at our peril.
The other issue is the question of the hostages. The Indians are very concerned about the hostages. Many suggestions have been put to the Foreign Secretary and to others. I hope that the Commonwealth can do something. If the Commonwealth is meaningful, with the Bangladeshis, with the Indians and with others, we could co-ordinate actions. It would be worth while for the Commonwealth and something that we could do. The scenes on the Jordanian border are dreadful.
I had prepared a great deal of stuff on this subject, but it will have to wait. The Kurds are another issue to consider in the next steps, when the possibility of war is over. We in this country have much to answer for over the years on the way in which we have treated the Kurds and on the redrawing of borders, and I hope that we shall look at that.
I want to raise briefly a number of issues that are, more precisely, for the Secretary of State for Defence. We are full of praise for the services, as we should be. Little of the Army is in the Gulf, but the Navy and the RAF are there. There will be a long wait. I hope that thought is being given to rest and recreation for the services out there, as it is an inhospitable part of the world. I served in the middle east for a long time during the war. Rest and recreation seem to be the last thing that people were worried about at the time, although the troops went there for months and even years on end. I understand that the Navy goes down to Mombasa, but what will be done about the others? I hope that the services are giving thought to that.
One technical problem that the Air Force had in the desert was sand. Sand got into 100 octane petrol when aircraft had to land in the desert. I was surprised to learn that 12 of our modern aircraft in the Gulf have had to 864 return home because of the problem of sand in the turbines. I do not know whether that is true, but it has been said. That surprises me in view of all the research that we have done and of the aircraft that we have provided for Saudi Arabia. I hope that a lot of thought is being given to that.
§ Mr. Rees
It may be sod's law, but the poor chap in the aeroplane is the one who has to suffer.
We have not had a satisfactory response on the subject of command and control. The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) was funny with my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) when he asked about orders and terms of engagement. Of course, once the troops have landed, a second lieutenant's job is not to question but to fire his gun. However, at the beginning, someone should ask what we are doing and what our purpose is. Yesterday the noble Lord Bramall. former Chief of the Defence Staff, raised this issue. He said:there will have to be a proper chain of command with a good, experienced commander-in-chief to take charge of implementing the general strategy. We cannot win battles by committees, let alone by the military committee of the United Nations.That is certainly true. He continued.Once the political guidelines and policy on the use of force have been established at governmental level and in the United Nations, the commander-in-chief, whoever he is—and he would have to be an American—and his subordinates must be allowed to fight their battle".All this seems obvious. He went on:our Chief of Defence Staff or one of the chiefs of staff should be sent to satisfy himself—[Official Report, House of Lords, 6 September 1990; Vol 521, c. 1833–34.]not that the United States knows what it is doing—I do not like this patronising attitude to the United States—but to get everything clear. The United States is in charge and it has the forces. It could decide whether to take back Kuwait.
The Secretary of State for Defence told us that 20 nations are sending forces, which made me think that there are too many ships in the Gulf. Whether there are enough soldiers is another matter. Lord Bramall raised an important point. The Secretary of State for Defence sloughed off a question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) about what was said by General Schwarzkopf and the Saudi commander-in-chief. Command must be clear. I know that old men are supposed to forget, but I have never forgotten the cock-up at Salerno. Books are written about it now, but it was clear at the time that there was a cock-up. I should like to know who was in charge.
§ Mr. Rees
The hon. Gentleman was probably there, and knows. Nothing that I have heard today makes me feel that it is any different in the Gulf today. I want to know who is in charge of the control of aircraft when they are airborne, and who allocates forces. It would be the first time in history if all this were being done properly, but something must be done about command.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East spoke of the British forces in Kuwait in 1961. A few years later, when I was a Minister with responsibility for the Army and the RAF, I learnt that when our soldiers got there, they could not operate because they had gone far 865 too quickly into a hot climate. Thank God that there was not a war. Somebody had better not leave it too late, or we shall repeat the situation of 1961.
I am not satisfied with the command and control aspect. I do not want this to be left until something goes wrong and then to hear from the Government that steps will be taken. Steps must be taken now. I hope that there will be a long period of peace, but I do not think that there will. The Americans are in charge, and they will take out Kuwait. There will be a landing in Kuwait that will not be under the control of the Saudis because it will be from the sea with the marines. If that happens, do not tell us; I do not want to know that. I want to know that the chiefs of staff are discussing it.
§ Mr. Rees
If he does not know, that is a different matter.
I wanted to mention command and control because I have not heard anything satisfactory about it yet. I hope that I will not be treated with the same sleight of hand as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East or the clever remark that was made by the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)
It is always a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Morley), with his experiences of the past. I could not agree more that command and control is an important aspect of the problem.
I propose to say a few words about that, but first I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on his speech and on the manner in which he has handled his responsibilities in the past few weeks. Rarely in British history have our defence and foreign policies been conducted in such harmony. Further, they have matched the hour, have been carried out efficiently, calmly and without bombast and with much patience and understanding. We owe a debt to my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Defence and for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the way in which they have conducted the policies in the past few weeks.
We received an assurance yesterday from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that our objective in furtherance of the United Nations resolution is to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait, if possible without resort to armed conflict. At the back of our minds are the awful lessons we had to learn the painful way during the 1930s and 1940s of dictators who, under one pretext or another, seized territories or gained breathing space before launching into further adventures. All those points were extensively developed yesterday, and I refer to them only because I wish to give my unequivocal support for the Government's approach to the crisis.
The right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) hinted that we are probably in for a long haul, and he may be right. Whatever happens, whether it is months, a year, or more, we shall as an alliance be exposed to stresses and strains. There is the question of compensation for the impact of sanctions, and it is to be hoped that 866 international action will be taken to help remedy or alleviate the problems of the less-developed and poorer nations involved in this international exercise.
The other source of friction that I should like to refer to concerns command and control—the possible friction that would weaken the cohesion of the alliance and particularly the military contribution of western European nations unless command and control is properly organised. There has already been criticism from the United States about the European effort, with which it is disappointed. Such criticism is not unusual. I have been involved in the NATO assembly for the past 10 years, and over the past few years there has been criticism from the United States that Europe is not playing its fair part in its contribution to the NATO alliance and that the burden should be shared more fairly. It is not surprising that that criticism should be made in this crisis.
I am not criticising the efforts of our European allies. Many had what they considered to be perfectly valid reasons for their initially cautious military response. Some wanted to get their nationals out of Kuwait and Iraq before making any military commitments. Others, such as Germany, had constitutional reasons. France, after a slower start, is matching the United Kingdom's military contribution. Other countries feel that under the present arrangements their contributions would be far too small to have any significant effect.
The Western European Union, which worked successfully during the Iran-Iraq conflict in the Gulf, took three weeks before meeting formally to co-ordinate the military response of the western European nation states that are members of WEU. It might have been met sooner, but it has met, its co-ordination role is well under way and we should not sneeze at it.
It is difficult to define clearly the extent to which WEU has an identity in the present circumstances. I noted the way in which Ministers who attended the WEU meeting on 21 August went straight to the European Community meeting that afternoon. Therefore it is not surprising that on 22 August The Times commented:this underlined the view held by some European countries that the union is the EC's substitute for a defence policy.By contrast, on 23 August, two days after the WEU had met, the Financial Times more robustly stated:
the WEU has been much derided in the past as a superfluous body but, on this occasion, it has proved an essential forum for defining and deciding Europe's security interests.A great deal of co-ordination has clearly gone on. One's impression is that much of what is being done effectively is being done through NATO in preference to the WEU. NATO's political committee is said to have been meeting almost daily since the crisis began. On the other hand, we know that there are problems with NATO. France's reluctance to accept NATO as an instrument of military planning still gets in the way of NATO holding meetings of its chiefs of staff.
We have not yet established in western Europe the proper organisation to enable us to do more than co-ordinate our activities. Before this crisis is out, we in western Europe will need to establish plans to do something more than co-ordinate our activities. We must consider whether the European forces should be placed under a joint command to meet this emergency. If it is too late to do that, we ought to instruct our Ministers to think about what might be done to meet future emergencies outside the NATO area.
867 The significance of NATO is that it has a properly integrated command structure. It is not an alliance of nations that co-ordinate their military plans from time to time when a crisis arises. NATO has an integrated permanent command, in permanent session, and it knows what its objectives are. If the WEU cannot get its act together, we shall have to consider whether NATO's remit ought to be extended to include what hitherto has been outside its area of responsibility. I am sure that if we do not do that, the European Community will step in, and that is the last thing that I would want to happen.
Another defence issue has a direct bearing on our own capabilities. In July the Government published a valuable document, "Options for Change". Hon. Members will recall that it outlined broadly the Government's plans to reduce the level of expenditure on defence and to change the structure of defence in the light of changing circumstances in Europe and the improved relationship with the Soviet Union. Implicit in the Government's thinking is the belief that if NATO's role is to be diminished, the continued instability of the world will demand other defence structures, or at least modifications to existing defence structures, that will enable western Europe to play its part in keeping the peace and defending its legitimate interests, not just in Europe but outside Europe, too. I think that the House gave its blessing to the general thrust in "Options for Change". Our armed forces, particularly the Army, would be smaller. They would play a reduced role on the continent and would be more mobile. Our armed forces would he more capable of operating overseas, well outside the NATO area.
To those who wondered why the plans were not more far reaching, the Government argued that they did not know where or when the next threat to our security might come from. They argued that we live in an unstable world —certainly in Europe, let alone elsewhere—and that therefore it was best to be prudent. How right my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was to adopt that view. The question that I ask the Government to answer in this debate is how their thinking stands now. My view is that the Government got it about right, provided that they make it clear that these smaller, lighter, more mobile forces will not always be able adequately to meet some of the threats that might yet occur, let alone the one that faces us today, especially if we do not co-operate with our allies in reshaping the forces that we know need to be reshaped.
Any changes that we make to our forces must be as a result of full discussion and co-operation with our allies, and that also applies to any changes that they may make. Otherwise we shall be working in isolation, and if we work in isolation we in Europe will be found wanting and unable to play our full part in helping to preserve the peace.
§ Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)
The key question that has come to the fore today is the question of who is in command of British and other foreign troops deployed in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. So far we have had no satisfactory answer to that question. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will say more about it when he winds up the debate; certainly, with my colleagues on the Select Committee on Defence, I shall seek further information when the Committee meets this afternoon.
As a number of hon. Members have pointed out, Saddam Hussein did not suddenly turn into an aggressive 868 tyrant on 2 August 1990. Hussein has been in power in Iraq for a long time: as a matter of fact, he came to power in the same year as our own beloved Prime Minister—and, as Labour Members are well aware, that was a very long time ago.
During that period, countless Iraqis have been imprisoned or killed; thousands of Kurds have been killed, many by chemical weapons; and millions of people have perished as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Iran. Throughout that time, the west has turned a blind eye to the excesses of the Iraqi regime in the interests of trade—including the arms trade, as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) pointed out earlier. I fear, therefore, that the debate contains an element of humbug.
Many hon. Members—especially, perhaps, Conservative Members—have talked about the principles of international law and the rights of small nations. Let us face up to the rather uncomfortable fact that, but for the oil factor, western Governments would have sat on their hands and the Kuwaitis would have gone the same way as the Kurds. The House should resolve to press for higher standards in the future conduct of international affairs and idealism. If nothing else comes out of this crisis, that at least will be an important step in the right direction.
Having put that on record, let me say that I wholeheartedly welcome the response of the world community—not only the response of the western democracies, but the significant response of the vast majority of Arab Governments, the Soviet Union and the entire United Nations—in confronting the intolerable aggression that has undoubtedly been employed in Kuwait. Let me add, however, that the world community really must keep a grip on the situation through the United Nations. The House must not allow the Prime Minister to indulge her instinct for brawling when British lives and interests are at stake, and when there are still other ways of dealing with the position. I must express my relief and gratitude in regard to the measured tone of her speech yesterday.
I am also worried by the possibility that the United States and the United Kingdom may seek to force the pace and raise the stakes. I am uneasy about American talk of a long-term United States role in a new middle eastern security framework. I doubt whether such a presence would be accepted by the Arabs—especially against a background of the west having deliberately sought for many decades to divide and destabilise the Arab world as a matter of calculated policy.
As a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed out, the principal instrument of that policy has been the power and expansion of the state of Israel. In the circumstances, no one should be surprised that many Palestinians believe, however mistakenly, that the United States forces in the region could pose an even greater threat than the Iraqi regime.
That may seem perverse when viewed from a British, European or North American perspective, but, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you or I were a resident of the west bank or Gaza—after 23 years of foreign military rule and 1,000 days of brutal repression of the Intifada—we could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow when the principal sponsor of that aggressor state reacts in such spectacular fashion to an Arab aggressor a few hundred miles further east.
869 We have taken those dual standards a stage further when the United States restores arms supplies to Israel and the United Kingdom cuts ministerial contacts with the Palestinians while they and their children are still in a plight identical to that of the people of Kuwait. That is part of the historical background of western malice and duplicity which has created an environment in which a person like Saddam Hussein can come to power. We must recognise the degree of suspicion about western motives which means that any ill-judged move by the United States or its allies in that region could play straight into the hands of Saddam Hussein.
If we jump the United Nations gun we could rally people throughout the Arab world to the Iraqi cause—that is the risk, and it is a serious risk. The Foreign Secretary and all his officials in the Foreign Office should be well aware of that risk from their long experience of Arab affairs. We should be urging appropriate caution on our friends in the United States of America. They should be doing everything possible to work with friendly forces in the middle east. I cannot see the sense of driving someone like King Hussein further into the arms of the Iraqi regime, as seems to be happening just now.
The caution that I am urging there is the caution advocated by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his important speech yesterday. We need scrupulous adherence to the resolutions and to the proceedings of the United Nations. By all means let us reserve the right to use force, but let us try to keep this international team together—it can and should be done. It is imperative that this international campaign be maintained as a genuine and credible United Nations undertaking, with the maximum possible Arab participation.
This is no time or place for a military ego trip by western politicians. There is far too much at stake. There are the lives of British service men, facing the threat of chemical warfare, and the lives of British and foreign hostages. I was greatly relieved this morning to hear that five-week-old baby girl, born to a couple of my constituents in Kuwait just before Iraq moved in, has arrived safely back in Britain today with her mother and twin five-year-old brothers. Her father, Derek Wright, is still in Kuwait and his parents are still there because his mother does not want to leave her elderly husband in those circumstances. Many people are still being held hostage in Kuwait and Iraq and it would be appalling if such people were to become embroiled in any hostilities if that could be avoided.
Apart from the lives at risk, we should remember our long-term interests in the middle east, both political and economic. I therefore appeal most sincerely to the Government to keep in step with the United Nations and to let sanctions work if it is at all possible. Certainly, let us keep military options open, but for goodness sake, "ca' canny"—to use a Scottish expression—and resist the temptation to indulge in reckless rhetoric which could make the situation worse for our people in that part of the world.
This international campaign can succeed with a bit of discipline on the part of the west. It it does, it will be a magnificent precedent to enable the United Nations to confront tyrants and aggressors in many parts of the world 870 in future. It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. If we can set a precedent in these weeks which can establish the United Nations as an effective world policeman to deal with tyrants, aggressors and evil regimes throughout the world, we shall have achieved a great deal. Let us hope that we can follow that through.
§ 12.3 pm
§ Mr. Robert Hayward (Kingswood)
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House will well understand if I consider the issue from a slightly different perspective from that of many hon. Members, and I apologise now for my absence at the end of the debate. Unfortunately, I have to return to a long-standing constituency commitment.
It will prove impossible to summarise in 10 minutes the views and comments that have been made to me by friends and relatives of hostages, because there are as many views, from one extreme to the other, as there are friends and relatives. I again thank my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for her kind comments yesterday, and the Copleys, the Brookes and British Airways, and all the helpers who have participated so enthusiastically over the past few weeks in the provision of the Gulf Support Group service. I was particularly pleased by the measured comments made during the debate of the past day and a half. On many occasions over the past few weeks, the media have given the impression that the British nation and politicians worldwide were dashing gung ho into war. Clearly that has been laid to rest by the majority of the speeches that we have heard.
In terms of the provision of the helpline and Gulf Support Group service, I pay tribute also to the many voluntary agencies that came forward, including the Samaritans, Childline, Bereavement Services, Cruse, Red Cross, and many others. However, the experience of the past few weeks has convinced me that when a problem arises that is general and not specific, we still cannot cope. Having been a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Transport at the time of the Lockerbie, Kegworth, King's Cross and Clapham disasters, it depresses me that the public believe that we are capable of providing support services at the drop of a hat, the fall of a plane, or the crash of a train. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
If one speaks to social services departments in county after county, they say that they are ready to provide services—but we had no evidence of that for two weeks. We had to kick-start the social services in most counties into operation, because the relatives and friends of hostages are spread throughout the country. There is also a general supposition as I heard again on television this morning—that the emotional problems connected with both depression and elation affect only those returning to this country. However, anyone who has been at an airport and observed the families of returning hostages will know that concern and depression is not restricted to them, and that many of the most traumatised people are those waiting for their relatives to arrive. I hope that all services will recognise that fact. There is no shadow of doubt that the most traumatised person at Heathrow airport last Sunday was not someone returning from Kuwait or Baghdad but the father-in-law of a woman who was returning, but whose son—her husband—was not. I ask all services to direct their thoughts to those people, too.
871 Since the events of 2 August, there has been much criticism of the action of the Foreign Office and of British embassies in the Gulf. Although my comments are relayed in a good spirit, I hope that all those about whom I comment will consider the observations that are being made about them. We recognise that now is not the time to make a detailed analysis of what has occurred. Instead, we must address ourselves to what might happen in future. Nevertheless, we must review all events as they have evolved since early August and ask ourselves whether we could have done better.
I express my great appreciation to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who is present in the Chamber, for providing financial assistance and for the much improved support that the helpline has received from the Foreign Office over the past fortnight. It has provided back-up whenever we wanted it, and has offered services that, to be honest, we do not really need.
As to other agencies, I am extremely critical of the media. They seem to have forgotten the relatives and friends of the hostages. A few weeks ago, a letter was published in the Daily Express from a gentleman in Saltford who commented that after President Hussein, Britain seemed to be fighting a battle against the media. It seems that at every stage the media have wanted to concentrate on the distress and agony that the situation has created. The media have wanted to hype up the pain.
A headline in The Sunday Times quoted Hussein as saying "Babies to starve". He did not say that. I ask the editorial staff of that paper to think how such a headline played on the nerves of all the families involved. It is not just the tabloids who are to blame. In many ways the tabloids have been good. However, the television companies have wanted to show films of the agony experienced.
London Weekend Television made three telephone calls within an hour asking for the names of families so that it could showthe distress and agony that families are going through.It really should be ashamed of itself. Independent Television News telephoned one family 30 times up to 1 o'clock one morning because they were related to a hostage. It, too, should be ashamed of itself. There is hardly one area of the national media which I could not condemn similarly. Those who are involved in the helplines and the relatives and the hostages are sick to death of the way in which the media have portrayed the events of the past few weeks. I also want to take this opportunity to condemn everything that Jesse Jackson did at Heathrow last Sunday.
The hostages and their families are in an extremely difficult position. We in our organisation will continue to provide all the help that we can. We know that there are not only many British people out there, but many of other nationalities. Those who have come back and the families of the hostages know that other nationalities are deeply involved.
We in our organisation and, I think, all politicians, would like to say to the hostages' families that they will always be in our consciousness, but, tragically, they cannot direct our foreign policy. If they do that, President Hussein will have won. He has put them in their present position contrary to every convention of international law and practice of the past 50 years. I am sure that the families of the hostages are only too conscious of the fact that it is 872 President Hussein who is abusing their rights. Any slight criticism that they may have of anybody else palls into insignificance against their absolute condemnation of President Hussein's treatment of their families and friends.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Cunninghame, South)
I do not want to follow the line taken by the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward), except to say that in any war the first casualty is always truth. Now, with organisations such as the Central Intelligence Agency covering the world, more and more disinformation is coming from American sources, to which, unfortunately, our media, including the Scottish media, have been giving great prominence.
Like most hon. Members who have spoken, I too am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for asking for the recall. He should have done it earlier, but the past day and a half has justified the recall. However, I would have been happier if my right hon. Friend had taken the opportunity to recall the parliamentary Labour party to give it an opportunity to discuss the situation and Labour's response to it before he spoke on our behalf at the Dispatch Box.
Listening this morning to the Secretary of State for Defence, I thought that he was trying to justify the military inactivity of most countries, even those in the United Nations who voted for a military adventure in the middle east. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) said that he thought that the Secretary of State mentioned that 20 nations were taking part. I thought that the Secretary of State for Defence was trying to camouflage the situation, trying to convince many hon. Members that this is a United Nations venture and not just an American one.
I ask the Foreign Secretary why, after every fact-finding mission by Congress members to the middle east, the first thing that they complain about when being interviewed on American television is the lack of military support from every other country, including troops on the ground from the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State for Defence said that we now have 5,000 military personnel in the Gulf area. Will the Foreign Secretary confirm that 3,000 of them were already in the Gulf, the middle east and the eastern Mediterranean before the crisis? We have moved only a small number of personnel. The Prime Minister yesterday promised to send more forces, but from where? Will they come from Northern Ireland, where we have 10,000 troops? More people are dying in Northern Ireland than are dying in Kuwait. We need troops in Northern Ireland more than we need troops in the middle east.
Listening to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), I wondered to whom he was talking. Was he talking to hon. Members, to the British military establishment, or to our so-called friends across the Atlantic in the United States? I hope that Labour spokesmen are not saying to the British military establishment and to the United States that they do not need to be afraid of a future Labour Government because they would carry out the same foreign and military policies as those carried out by the Conservative Government during the past 11 years.
In the short time available to me, I wish to make two main points. This situation would never have arisen if it were not for the ending of the cold war. If there were still 873 two major super-powers—the Soviet Union and America —the Americans would never have dared to enter Saudi Arabia and say that they were doing so to defend Arab interests. They would have known that the Soviet Union would immediately come from the north to defend their friends in the northern part of the middle east—[Interruption.] Conservative Members sometimes do not like the truth. Like the thugs they are, they think that the only way to silence people is by putting them down. I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will give some protection to independent Members.
There is now a world political vacuum. There is only one super-power, and unlike some of my right hon. and hon. Friends I have no faith in the intentions of the United States. I do not want to go over America's recent history, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) said, they range from Vietnam to Nicaragua to Grenada to the Philippines and to Panama. I have no confidence in the peaceful intentions of the United States. I hope that when Mr. Gorbachev meets President Bush he will make it clear that the Soviet Union will not support any American military attack towards the north out of Saudi Arabia.
I am sure that many right hon. and hon. Members heard Secretary Baker speaking on television last night. He told us that a land embargo and a naval blockade had been put in place and that it would not succeed as quickly as America had hoped. He then said that there might have to be a call for an air embargo on Iraq. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will state clearly that that is not the British Government's policy. I hope also that those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have decided to support the Government, or to abstain, will consider this serious issue. Which pilot, whether American or British, will be given the first order to shoot down a civilian aircraft which refuses to turn away when it is told that there is an embargo on supplying goods and equipment, food and medical supplies by air to Iraq? I hope that the Foreign Secretary will make it clear also that the policy of Secretary Baker is not the policy of the Government and that on no account will the Royal Air Force be given the right to shoot down unarmed civilian aircraft because they are entering Iraqi air space with food and medical supplies. We could learn overnight that such an aircraft has been shot down.
I fear that there are many in the United States, including the born-again Christians who permeate the Central Intelligence Agency, who are looking for an opportunity to escalate the potential armed conflict. The shooting down of unarmed civilian aircraft could be their first attempt at escalation. I hope that we shall hear from the Foreign Secretary, or from the boss, that on no account will the British Government sanction such a policy.
I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to stand united. Let us vote against the Government's policies. My constituents and I have more to fear from the British Prime Minister than from Saddam Hussein.
§ Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe)
I agree with only one part of the extraordinary contribution of the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie), and that is that 874 Parliament should have been recalled at an earlier stage. The reluctance of the Leader of the Opposition to exercise his right to ask for the recall of Parliament, and his slowness to do so, was perhaps explained by the speech of the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South.
It is important that the House meets at such a crucial juncture, when we face threats to the interests of the United Kingdom and to the world as a whole. The international community recognises the seriousness of the threats, as do we in this place. The House is sometimes too modest and too diffident and tends to play down the role of right hon. and hon. Members as the spokesmen of their constituents and of the United Kingdom. At such a moment it is right that we should meet to express our views. It is we, not the editors of newspapers, the writers of editorials or the pundits in the media, who speaks for Britain. We were elected to speak for Britain and we should do so. I thank God that we are doing so.
I welcome the extraordinary degree of unity which is emerging as the debate continues. We have discordant voices, but it would be absurd to expect complete unity either in the country or within the House. As a democrat, I welcome that freedom as, I am sure, do all my colleagues. However, I find it lamentable that that note of discord —with only one exception, all such notes came from Opposition Members—is heavily overlaid with primitive and naked anti-Americanism, as was demonstrated yet again by the contribution of the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South.
I am sorry to introduce an antagonistic note, but it needs to be done in view of the contributions that have been made. Opposition Members have frequently sought to draw parallels between what has happened to Kuwait and what happened as a result of American actions in Grenada and Panama. That is deeply offensive. Anyone who seeks to make such parallels should ask the common people of Panama and Grenada whether they are satisfied with what has happened or whether they would prefer a Marxist dictatorship or the corrupt dictatorship of Noriega. Having received an answer to that, they could then go to the common people of Kuwait and ask their view about the actions of America and the international community.
I wish to talk about the British and other citizens held as hostages. Many other important subjects have been covered in this debate, but I regret that not enough has been said about the hostages. I imagine that almost all of us have constituents involved in one way or another with the terrible plight of the hostages. I have no doubt that every hon. Member, whatever view he or she takes on the broader issues, shares our detestation of what is being done to the hostages, for whom our sympathy is unbounded.
I shall offer a personal note—I was held hostage as a diplomat by the Chinese from August 1967 to June 1968. One aspect of being a hostage is that one does not know how long the ordeal will last. That is one of the dreadful uncertainties, quite apart from the hostages' worry about what will happen to them. I lay claim to total sympathy with the plight of those still held in Iraq, and the plight of their relatives and friends in this country. Having said that, it cannot be right for Government policy to be dictated by it. Some 40 diplomats and their families were held hostage in China during those 11 months as a result of the sacking of our mission by the Red Guards. We were held by the Gang of Four, as they were then known, who controlled 875 China. There was little public attention in this country and nothing on the scale that, rightly, we have now. There was no expectation that British policy then should have been influenced with regard to Hong Kong, or any other aspect of Anglo-Chinese relations, by the fact that the Chinese held us hostage. Sadly, that must be the judgment now with regard to British and other hostages held by Saddam Hussein.
It is time to end the barbarity of hostage-taking. There are two happy sides to this awful crisis. The first is the degree of international collaboration that has so far been maintained. I pray to God that, as the hard realities are faced, that degree of international unity will be maintained. It may not be totally maintained, but we must all seek to keep the high degree of unanimity that we have. We must not sacrifice for legalisms the principles enshrined in the United Nations resolutions relating to the complete withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait.
The post-cold war era gives the international community a great opportunity to establish a regime in which small nations can live in peace, without fear of aggression from their neighbours. It could bring an end to the whole desperate business of hostage-taking. Only recently we witnessed the horrors inflicted on Brian Keenan, and we tend not to remember as often as we should the plight of John McCarthy, Terry Waite and the other hostages. It is outrageous that we do not, week by week, bring the matter to the attention of the world. I hope that one outcome of the present whole mess will be an end to hostage taking, which is a scar on humanity. I look to those of the Muslim religion who are sincere believers in Islam to join us—sadly, hostage-taking seems at present a feature of Islamic communities—and those of other faiths in bringing the present barbarity to an end.
Above all, the debate has provided an opportunity—accepting that there are voices of discord—to show that the great call is for unanimity in proving that aggression must not be seen to pay.
§ Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)
This has been an excellent debate which has totally justified the recall of Parliament. It is in marked contrast to the Falklands debate on that Saturday in March 1982. I recall returning from the Anglo-German Konigswinter conference at Cambridge for the debate. When I returned to that conference, my German friends expressed amazement at the shrillness, jingoistic nature and excitability of the British Parliament in reacting to the Falklands crisis.
This debate has been sober, realistic and practical. There has been a wide consensus among hon. Members. We have all condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its subsequent occupation and annexation. Most hon. Members have supported the impressive international response and particularly the blockade that has been undertaken in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.
There has also been general recognition that we are in for a long haul. There has been little support for the idea of a quick, unilateral, surgical strike, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) pointed out the dangers and inadequacies of such an approach.
Most of us recognise that there may come a time when, in support of United Nations resolutions, force may have to be used. But, as the Leader of the Opposition said in his 876 excellent speech yesterday, it is essential that any action has the widest possible international support and is taken in accordance with United Nations resolutions, the UN charter and under international law.
President Bush and his chief Ministers have so far handled t he crisis with great skill and intelligence. If any of my hon. Friends doubt that—we have heard one such expression—I urge them to consider what would be the situation if President Reagan were still in office. There would not have been the concern to create such a wide-ranging international consensus, or to work through the United Nations, or the circumspection and restraint that have so far been the hallmark of the speeches and statements of President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker.
Naturally, the Americans want to protect their oil supplies—[Interruption.] This is a serious debate and it would be sensible for hon. Members to take it seriously. We all want to protect our oil supplies, and that goes for Japan, the countries of Europe and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said yesterday, the developing countries of the third world. We all want to protect our oil supplies and we are entitled to do so.
I do not believe that—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) hinted—it is the intention of the United States to set up a virtual protectorate in the Gulf. The reality, as we have seen from the tour by Secretary of State Brady, is that the United States can no longer afford permanent involvement on the scale that may well be required if security is to be maintained in the middle east.
I ask my hon. Friends to mark this point well. The new development in American foreign policy—and I believe that we must welcome it—is the realisation in the United States that although the United States remains a super-power, it must act within the widest possible international support. It is only sensible and wise for us to mark that.
My next point—the new and most welcome accord between the United States and the Soviet Union—has been mentioned by a number of hon. Members. It is not true to say that the Soviet Union is no longer a super-power if we judge that by the possession of nuclear weapons and of substantial armed forces. In that sense, the Soviet Union is a super-power. If we had had a middle east crisis on this scale five years ago, we could now be on the brink of world war. The fact that we are not marks the real change and shift that has occurred. In this crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union are co-operating in the Security Council.
The Soviet Union is taking a resolute line with Iraq, its former client. That was illustrated by the polite, but firm reception given to the Iraqi Foreign Minister in Moscow this week. This weekend, President Bush and President Gorbachev will meet in Helsinki, at the request of President Bush, to discuss common strategy over the crisis. That is an enormously welcome development.
The new relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States has breathed new life into the United Nations and has helped to make the response to the Iraqi invasion so international and so effective. We must welcome that and we must hope to build on and develop that constructive accord, which is so promising for the world and for the future of peace.
There is general agreement in the House that we must look beyond the immediate situation and that we must try 877 to reach a long-term settlement in the middle east. It is interesting and significant that both Secretary of State James Baker and the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, have been talking about longer-term objectives and, above all, about the need to create a more stable order in the middle east, an area which is so vital to the world.
I do not have time to run over what should be included in that long-term settlement. Clearly, we must settle some of the basic disputes, especially, of course, the Palestinian issue. It is vital that we settle that. It is also vital that we come to our senses about exporting arms to the middle east. None of us should forget—and we all have a responsibility here—that the west helped to build up the military might of Iraq. We must draw the appropriate lesson from that and about chemical bans as well.
We must have a new security guarantee in the middle east. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister talk about the possible role of the United Nations. The Arabs must be involved as well.
I will join my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in voting for the Adjournment today, not because I am giving the Government a blank cheque—none of us should give any Government a blank cheque—but because I support the Government's actions so far and, above all, because, like my right hon. Friend, I support the case for an effective international response to a clear case of aggression by Iraq.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated. All right-thinking people do not want war, hate war and want it to be avoided. However, we have to face the fact that there may be war because of Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. The debate is overshadowed by three factors that we should keep in mind. First, we are threatened with a war that will bring into play modern chemical weapons. That is to be dreaded and, if possible, avoided. Secondly, large numbers of our citizens and large numbers of the citizens of our allies are already in the hands of Saddam Hussein. We must never forget the hostages. Thirdly, Saddam has a master card. He could turn his attention to Israel and thereby unite almost all the Arab nations behind him. We should face up to those dark shadows.
Many hon. Members have used the words, "God forbid that this should happen." I echo them. I call on the Prime Minister to go to see Her Majesty the Queen and advise her that this nation should have a day of prayer and humility to ask almighty God to avert this calamity. The battle does not go to the strong or the swift. It is more honourable and ethical to ask for the avoidance of calamity than to call for deliverence from calamity once it has come.
I associate myself with the sympathy expressed to the families of our colleagues who have died since we last met. As an hon. Member representing Northern Ireland, I pay tribute to Ian Gow. He was a personal friend of Northern Ireland and the sympathy of the Province goes to his wife and sons. Ian Gow agreed with the Unionist representatives in their attitude to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
878 Many people have castigated the United States and others for their attitude, but it was well for us that we had America and that it was able to do what is has done.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Yes. Think of what a situation we should be in if America did not have the ability to respond to the call for help from the Saudis.
I support the Prime Minister for backing America from the start. I have never advocated a blank cheque approach in support of American policies. However, there is an inconsistency which galls the Unionists. Let us suppose that an hon. Member suggested that Kuwait and Iraq should have an agreement, and that that agreement should consist of the setting up of a conference with equal numbers of representatives from Iraq and Kuwait, or that the dictator himself should preside at the conference, and that the Kuwaitis should make every effort to agree with what Iraq wants and should bend their energies to that end, and that if at any time the Kuwaiti people wanted to vote themselves into Iraq the Governments of the world should support that. Any hon. Member who said, "That is the answer", would be cried down with the fury of the House. Yet the House, by an overwhelming vote, agreed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Hon. Members should remember that the root cause of the trouble in Northern Ireland is a claim of territory.
It is all very well castigating other people for their remarks, but we should look to this House today. In Northern Ireland we have had 3,000 people killed and 10,000 people maimed. A warship being prepared for the Royal Navy was bombed yesterday in the Belfast shipyard. Two nights ago, the police station at Lochgall, where the IRA were defeated a year ago, was devastated in an attack. And the deaths continue. When hon. Members agree to the course that the House is rightly taking, they should have a thought for Northern Ireland and should support the efforts being made to ensure that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is set aside and a new constitutional settlement achieved in Northern Ireland.
I want to say a word about the hostages, the refugees, the countries that are suffering as a result of the embargo and especially the families of the hostages. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam), who spoke of Douglas Croskery, who was an Ulsterman and the first man to die in the Kuwaiti trouble. I should like to say, on behalf of the family represented by my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder), that we deeply appreciate the remarks made by the hon. Member for Blaydon.
I should like to associate myself with the other remarks that have been made about the suffering of the hostages. I hope that the House will not only take into consideration the countries that are suffering as a result of the embargo, such as Egypt and Jordan, but will remember that many businesses in our country are beginning to suffer and that unemployment will be the result of the pressures of this embargo. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind. I heard on television this morning a statement from the Government that "We must stand up for our ethical principles. Therefore, if people are unemployed it is just too bad." I hope that that is not the official Government view. I hope that they are prepared to help unemployed 879 people who are put on the dole simply because of the embargo. They deserve the attention of the House and of the Government.
I trust that this war will be averted and that the House will keep its strength and show the world that we will not tolerate aggression. I hope and pray that the matters that we are discussing will continue to have the support of the world community. I believe that if they have worldwide support we have a sharp weapon against Hussein, who may say that this is a west-Arab struggle. That lying propaganda must not be given any credence whatever.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
One thing is certain: no hon. Member who has spoken in the debate so far has criticised the recall of Parliament. When the invasion occurred on 2 August I took the view that it would be right for the House to be recalled as quickly as possible. I remembered that in 1968, when I was a Member for another constituency, the House was recalled almost immediately following the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Earlier this year, on 5 April, I had an Adjournment debate in which I urgedthat the banning of all forms of high-level technology to Iraq should be given the highest priority and that every effort should be made urgently to seek co-operation on that, certainly from the countries of western Europe".—[Official Report, 5 April 1990; Vol. 170 c. 1352.]I also argued that sanctions should include the ending of trade credits to the regime.
When the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), who replied to the debate last night, answered my Adjournment debate he disagreed with me on trade credits. His comments were quoted this week on "Panorama". He argued that if we stopped trade credits to Iraq, other countries would step in. That is indeed a familiar argument. I believe that this country, though not so much as France or the Soviet Union, has some responsibility for the build-up of the armaments industry in Iraq. We should recognise that and learn the lessons from it for the future when allowing weapons to be supplied to dictatorships of the most brutal and terrorist kind. According to the "Panorama" progamme, it appears that the company, located in Britain, that has contributed to Iraq's nuclear build-up continues to do that work. That is something which the Government must look into urgently.
I take the view, of course, that the invasion of Kuwait was an act of outright criminality. It is, as we all know, a blatant lie that the Iraqis had been invited in by opposition elements. That lie hardly lasted a single week. Shortly after we were told that Kuwait was just another province of Iraq and that that could not be changed. People such as myself, who were not around here at the time but who know it from contemporary history, must surely recall what happened in 1938 when Nazi troops marched into Austria. It was said then that, arising from the wish of the Austrian and German people, it was one greater German nation. The same familiar lie has been repeated now in endless propaganda from a terrorist dictatorship.
I also take the view that the Security Council acted correctly and promptly. The resolutions on sanctions and the blockade that have been approved should ensure that Kuwait is freed from enemy occupation. The international community should not be satisfied with anything less. 880 Kuwait must be freed. If that is not achieved, everything that we are doing will have been a waste of time. The primary objective is that Kuwait should be freed from occupation. There can be no negotiations, no deals on that basic demand.
I do not accept that in return for ending the occupation, some offer should be made to the criminal regime in Iraq. Various suggestions have been made on the international scene and by a few hon. Members in our debate. It has been suggested that an island here or an island there should be given to Iraq. That would be rewarding the aggressor. It is not the job of the international community to find ways in which a dictator can, somehow, save face. He took upon himself the responsibility of that invasion. He must bear that responsibility to his own people and to the international community.
Some have argued that what is required is an international conference—it has been said by some of my hon. Friends and a few Conservative Members—to try to settle a number of outstanding issues in the middle east, including the present crisis. I agree with some of the aims of such a conference. Much reference in the debate has been made to the Palestinian issue. I have never disagreed that that is a very important problem. I speak as one—I have never been ashamed of it—who believes that it was right in 1948 that the state of Israel should have been set up, for obvious reasons. But if the Jews have a right to a homeland of their own, so have the Palestinians. I have harshly criticised, and I shall continue to do so, the outlandish and hawkish ways in which successive Israeli Governments have acted.
I took part here in some of the exchanges in 1967. It is true that at that time Israel took upon itself that aggression, but, by heavens, it was provoked into so doing. In 1973 it did not, rightly or wrongly, take upon itself that initiative, but in 1967 it came to the conclusion, as most people did, that, as in 1948, the Arab world was going to invade. As a result, the occupied territories were taken. There were no occupied territories before then. My criticism of Israel is that, having gained those occupied territories, it should have used them for negotiating purposes, rather than taking the line that has unfortunately been taken and stating that the land is all part of Israel and should remain so.
Surely the difference between Kuwait and the occupied territories, is that since 1948 there has been a state of war between Israel and most of the Arab world; there was no state of war between Iraq and Kuwait. If Kuwait is to be criticised, it must be for the way in which, over the past few years, it has done everything possible to appease the dictatorship in Iraq, advancing loans of every conceivable kind.
When some of my hon. Friends say, "Let us have an international conference in the first place", my mind goes back to 1956. I was not a Member of Parliament then, but on Sunday 4 November I demonstrated up the road in Trafalgar square. I was deeply angered, shocked and humiliated by what the Tory Government had done: in my opinion it was a criminal act with no justification, and, although that view may have been shared by a minority in the country, it was a pretty sizeable minority.
I did not say with others opposed to the aggression then that an international conference should first take place; nor did my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who at that time represented a different constituency. We said, first and foremost, that what the 881 Eden Government had brought about—criminal aggression—must be ended. For all sorts of reasons, as we know, it was ended.
If Labour Members were right to say that 34 years ago, when aggression was perpetrated by a Government in this country, how can we now be indifferent to what a terrorist dictatorship has done in Kuwait? How could we be consistent if we were not equally angry and dismayed, and as determined about the freeing of Kuwait as we were 34 years ago about the Suez operation? I see no inconsistency. I believe that we should always oppose aggression in all its forms, and I shall continue to do so.
What if the sanctions and the blockade do not achieve our objective? I have already stressed that that objective must be the freeing of Kuwait, and I accept the possibility that the sanctions and the blockade will not achieve it. I believe, however, that it is essential to allow time for sanctions—strictly applied—to work. The regime is not likely to be brought to its knees within a few weeks: it has a certain amount of reserves and resilience. Nevertheless, it appears that sanctions are already beginning to bite, and, if that is happening after such a short time, it would indeed be foolish to conclude that they are not going to work. We should give them time and that view should, I believe, be adopted by the leading player in this matter the United States. If I had to choose between the editorials in The Times and those in The Daily Telegraph, I would opt for The Daily Telegraph, which has argued strongly for caution and for allowing the sanctions policy to work.
On the other hand, if sanctions ultimately do not work —I shall speak frankly; we are all responsible for our words—I believe that force should be used. To say otherwise would be inconsistent with what I have already said: that Kuwait should be freed from enemy occupation. Let me strongly urge, however, that the broad alliance that has come into being be maintained. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was absolutely right: if force is to be used, it must be used with the approval of the United Nations.
A broad consensus should be maintained at all times to isolate the terrorist regime, and to ensure that as much international support as possible is maintained by Britain, the United States, other powers and those Arab countries that understand how essential it is for the consequences of the aggressive act committed on 2 August to be brought to an end.
§ Sir David Price (Eastleigh)
The last time I addressed the House on the subject of a crisis in the middle east was 13 September 1956. On that occasion I followed the then hon. Member for Bristol, South-East; yesterday we heard from him again, wearing the rather different motley of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). Then, as now, we took rather different views of the crisis. To put it at its simplest at this late hour in the debate, the right hon. Gentleman profoundly distrusted the Government. This time he has added his profound distrust of the Americans. On both occasions I express my trust of the Government and on this occasion of the Americans.
At this late stage in the debate the House will be relieved to hear that I shall not attempt to give my analysis of what has happened in the middle east over the past 34 years and 882 of how we should handle the crisis. I shall raise only one or two human problems which I hope will command the attention of the House and further action by the Government.
I hope that the House will agree that it is insufficient to say that we support the implementation of the international rule of law. We must also pick up the casualties of such implementation even though the origin of their situation is Iraqi aggression.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said last night in his winding-up speech, we are talking about Saddam Hussein's refugees. However, the plain fact is that we have to cope with the situation as we find it. Our embassies in Kuwait and Baghdad are doing everything that they can for our own people. The criticisms that have been made are ill-placed, given the remarkably difficult circumstances in which the embassies have been working. Before this debate is over, we should make it clear that we pay the fullest tribute to what our staff there are doing.
When those British subjects get out of Iraq and Kuwait we should do more. First, when the aircraft come back full of British refugees there should not only be immigration officers to meet them but people from the Department of Social Security to offer immediate help. Although the majority have families to go to, there is evidence that some arrive penniless and dispossessed. I am sure that the House will agree that they have a call upon our resources just as our prisoners of war did at the end of the war when they came back from various camps in Germany and the far east.
Secondly, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) told the House about some of the problems that he has encountered in his self-help group. I suggest to the House that we have reached the stage at which it is insufficient to rely upon voluntary assistance, and it should be taken over officially because the scale of the numbers is too great to expect purely voluntary organisations to cope with it.
Moving from the subject of our own people to the problem of the many foreign nationals who have been caught in Kuwait and Iraq—some 2.5 million people—we have heard of the plight of many of these refugees when they reach the Jordanian border. The figures are uncertain, but it is thought that about a quarter of a million people are on the Jordanian side of the border. As part of the world community and as co-sponsors of the Security Council's resolutions, we have a responsibility for these people, and that has been acknowledged by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Last night she gave us the good news that we are to increase our contributions to a certain international organisation, and that is greatly to be welcomed.
I suggest that there are four specific measures that the British people can take through the Government now. The first is to make use of that admirable body the Royal Army Medical Corps. It has field ambulances which are self-contained so that when it goes on a job it does not make any demands on the resources of the country that it is going into. It did excellent work in Nepal two years ago and this would be a proper civilian use of military personnel. One of my hon. Friends made the suggestion in general terms that the military should be used, and here is an excellent opportunity to do so at once. As I have some experience of the Royal Army Medical Corps, I can assure the House that it is excellent.
883 I would like us to send also members of the Royal Engineers—some field squadrons of sappers, who are extremely versatile. We talk about refugee camps, but none exist. Something must be built as temporary accommodation. The Corps of Royal Engineers is superb at that kind of task, being extremely efficient and adaptable.
Right hon. and hon. Members referred also to the need for drivers and to maintain trucks under difficult conditions in the desert. The Royal Corps of Transport is extremely experienced in such work.
Anyone who is worried that sending British soldiers to do a civilian job in Jordan would create problems with the Jordanians may be assured that that would not arise. King Hussein above all knows the merits and the capabilities of the British armed forces, having himself been trained by them and having had a long association with them. I am sure it is a challenge that our armed forces would take up willingly.
Finally, I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs that there are surplus civilian aircraft available for charter as we come to the end of the holiday season which should be used now to take foreign nationals from the Gulf to their various home countries, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will respond to those four specific proposals so that something can be done now. The scale of the problem is quite hideous. If we ask ourselves the old question, "Who is my neighbour?", I am clear that the refugees near Amman are my neighbours.
§ 1.6 pm
§ Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)
As we near the end of our two-day debate, we can be thankful that the tone was set at the very beginning, in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and has moved the House towards a fairly clear consensus on how the Government should react to the events in the Gulf.
There has been total agreement in the House that a unique attempt to obliterate a member state of the United Nations must be reversed. There has been almost total agreement in the House that the economic blockade should be supported and made effective. There is almost universal hope in the House that sanctions will work, and there is the nearly unanimous view that if they do not or circumstances make it necessary, force may have to be used on behalf of the Government and people of Kuwait.
There was also a general echo of opinion on both sides of the house that if it proves necessary to use force, the widest possible international agreement is essential. There is a widespread feeling in the House that any kind of single United States adventure, with the United Kingdom in tow, would not be welcomed. There is a broad view across the House that further agreement in the United Nations is desirable, and, if that is not available, at the very least, that all 20 nations involved in the present forces, plus the two super-powers, should have to consent to any military activity. That is why this weekend's summit between Mr. Gorbachev and President Bush will be so important.
In the light of what I perceive to be a great consensus in the House, some of us repudiate the comments made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). I do not doubt his sincerity in such matters, but I 884 am not alone in resenting his suggestion that those of us who vote in the Aye Lobby this afternoon will somehow be voting for war, while he will somehow be voting for peace. That suggestion cannot be allowed to stand, because it is not true. When my right hon. and hon. Friends and I go into the Lobby this afternoon in support of the Government, we shall be saying that we acknowledge that hundreds of our own civilians, as well as thousands of our troops, are at risk in the Gulf. We recognise that the Government have access, which we do not have, to intelligence reports and, increasingly in this day and age, to satellite reports on the situation in Iraq. Therefore, Opposition Members and Government Back Benchers must wish Ministers well in the appallingly difficult judgments that they may have to make in the weeks ahead. That is the spirit in which we shall go into the Lobby today. It is nothing to do with advocating war as against peace.
I have just four points to make. First, we have not paid enough attention to the refugee problem. It is right and natural that the Government and the House should express great concern about the hundreds of our people whose lives are at risk in the Gulf. That is wholly proper. But we should also recognise that hundreds of thousands of people have been dispossessed as a result of Saddam Hussein's actions.
The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour), who has been to Kuwait far more often than I have, made a telling point when he said that after the invasion nobody could be found in Kuwait to man a substitute Government on behalf of Saddam Hussein. The truth is that Kuwait was, as we know, a rentier economy. A great proportion of its population sent remittances home. It comprised Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Filipinos and so on. The image that Saddam Hussein tried to create of his marching in against a privileged royal family is not true. He has wrecked the hopes and the livelihoods of thousands of the poorest people of the world.
§ Sir David Steel
I am reluctant to give way, because, like everybody else, I want to be brief.
Welcome though the extra money announced by the Prime Minister yesterday is, the refugee problem will not be solved by the signing of cheques. I echo what the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) and the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) have said. If we have spare aeroplanes, now is the time for them to be sent to Jordan to help in an immediate airlift to deal with the refugee problem.
Secondly, one of the lessons of this episode is that the world community must now come to grips with the appalling problem of the free sale of arms and equipment round the world. There is nothing more deeply hypocritical than the way in which the developed nations have poured arms into the middle east and then stood around collectively wringing their hands the minute they were used. We have reaped the benefits of the profits of arms sales from all round the world. The two biggest suppliers to Iraq were two of the permanent members of the Security Council—the Soviet Union and France.
My mind goes back to a speech made in 1980 at the Liberal international congress by Hans Dietrich Genscher, 885 the German Foreign Minister, calling not for a stop to arms sales—we are not as romantic as that—but at least for an international register of arms manufacturers and sales under the authority of the United Nations. It is time, 10 years on and in the light of what has happened, that that idea was firmly pursued by the world community. We cannot continue to traffic in the weapons of death for profit in the irresponsible way in which we have.
Thirdly, many hon. Members have referred to the wider situation in the middle east. It is true that the Israeli occupation of the west bank and Gaza has gone on for a long time. Again, my mind goes back to my time as a young Member of Parliament when I was dispatched as a member of the parliamentary delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in the autumn of 1967. That was the time when Lord Caradon, whose passing we all mourn this week, was our Minister at the United Nations. To him more than anyone else were attributed the efforts to secure the passing of resolution 242. That was a great act of international statesmanship. But the trouble is that, for 23 years, resolution 242 has remained nothing but a piece of paper. Action on it has not taken place. That was because of the continuation of the cold war. The Soviet Union saw in the middle east the possibility of latching on to a conflict, and using it as part of its expansionist plans. That meant that resolution 242 could never be put into effect and become a reality.
Unhappily, when the thaw came, we and the rest of the world were, understandably, taken up with other excitements. With the dismantling of the Berlin wall and events in southern Africa, we took our eyes off the middle east. But we must return to it now and admit that that area of conflict has been neglected for many years.
I agree with those who yesterday said that King Hussein of Jordan had been rather badly treated. We have not recognised the great difficulties that he, in particular, has had in his country. I do not deplore his efforts at continued dialogue and discussion, together with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Like the Minister of State, I regret the decision of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to support Saddam Hussein, but we must analyse why that has happened. In May, I went to Tunis to meet Yasser Arafat and the Secretary-General of the Arab League. I took careful note of what they said to me. They both registered their dismay at the lack of positive response from Israel and the western powers to Yasser Arafat's initiatives. They said that most radical and extremist forces were liable to say to them, "What is the use of promising to abandon terrorism or recognising Israel's right to exist if it produces no peace?" They said that the pressure for war and terrorism thus increases, so that so-called moderate Governments in the middle east come under threat from fundamentalists hostile to the lack of progress towards a peace settlement and the lack of justice for the Palestinians.
Unhappily, those words have come true, only a few weeks after they were uttered, through the support that has been given to Saddam Hussein and the way in which he has been able to latch on to the Palestinian grievance and attempt to undermine—thankfully, so far unsuccessfully —the Governments of Jordan and Egypt.
The House has an obligation to tell the Government that, because we have such good support from so many 886 Arab friends in the current operation, we should say to them that when the crisis is over we will recognise that we have been a little lax—especially successive Governments of the United States—and that we will deal with the Palestinian grievance and with the wider issue of the middle east peace settlement. We must return it to the front of the international agenda.
Fourthly, when in the past I have discussed with Israeli politicians the question of a demilitarised zone in the west bank, they have pooh-poohed that because of the vulnerability of their territorial position—and they had a point. However, are we now moving into a more hopeful era? I welcome what the Prime Minister said yesterday about a better world order, in which the United Nations, because of the co-operation of the super-powers, will have real bite and authority. In such a position, to talk of a long-term United Nations role in the middle east, as part of the peace settlement, is no longer fanciful but a realistic proposition.
Out of this great turmoil must come some signs of hope. I welcome what the Prime Minister said yesterday and I am glad that she has moved away from her unfortunate remarks in Helsinki when she criticised the lack of effort by our fellow Europeans, and I am glad that the Secretary of State for Defence paid tribute to them today. It was rather as though Churchill, in the middle of the last war, had said, "We do not think that the French Resistance is doing enough." The Prime Minister's observation was not helpful, and neither was her vision of NATO instead of the United States becoming the new world policeman in out-of-area operations.
What we must look for, and the Prime Minister rightly referred to this yesterday, is the possibility of the United Nations, because of the way in which it has tackled this matter, realising the dreams of its founders and becoming an effective world policeman. If that happens, some good will have come out of this terrible tragedy.
§ Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)
It is always a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Tweedale, Etterick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), and I congratulate him on his robust remarks. I endorse his call for Britain to take the lead in establishing an airlift to transport the refugees from Jordan.
The debate has shown a remarkable degree of unanimity in all quarters in condemning the Iraqi invasion and in expressing determination to see the liberation of Kuwait and the restoration of its legitimate Government.
I preface my remarks by joining those who have paid tribute to our late and valued colleague, Ian Gow. He was a loyal servant of this House, a courageous patriot and a dear friend to many on both sides of the House. He will be sadly missed. Our condolences go to his widow, Jane, and their two sons.
How tragic it is that just as 45 years of cold war confrontation was coming to an end, and we seemed to be moving into smoother waters, we should find ourselves confronted by a grave threat from an entirely different quarter. This is not a crisis which has crept up on us unannounced. Ten years ago, on 11 July 1980, I had occasion to warn in an article in The Times of the determination of the Iraqi Government to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and was the first to report the fact that the Government of France had delivered to 887 Iraq 72 kg of weapons grade enriched uranium, sufficient to make three nuclear weapons. It would be difficult to conceive of a more reckless or more venal action by a democratic Government.
Thus, it is not just private companies have enabled Saddam Hussein to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Governments have done so as well, including one of our principal partners within the European Community. I find that both appalling and unacceptable. Of course, a year later the Israeli air force took out the Osirak facility, thus nipping Iraq's nuclear capability in the bud and postponing its realisation for an entire decade. For that act Israel was roundly but, in my view, wrongly and regrettably condemned by the world community.
Iraq's invasion of its defenceless neighbour Kuwait was a clear act of war, a flagrant aggression and an act of defiance against the entire international community. Were Iraq to be allowed to get away with such behaviour, international relations would be back to the law of the jungle. That is why the Iraqi dictator must be stopped. Saddam Hussein has thrown down the gauntlet to the world. There can be no doubt that, but for the magnificent and swift response of the United States and Britain, Saddam Hussein's forces would today be occupying Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates would be under threat. At a stroke, he would have gained control of over half the world's proved oil reserves and posed a mortal threat to all the industrialised nations.
We owe a great debt to President Bush and our United States ally as well as to Her Majesty's Government, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for their swift and sure response to the crisis. It is at times such as this that the British nation appreciates the qualities of the strong and decisive leadership of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
I congratulate also the Leader of the Opposition, who has spoken so robustly for Britain and not in a party political way. He has given his wholehearted support to the Government in calling for the defeat of Saddam Hussein. It is heartening that that robustness has been echoed in every quarter of the House.
Round one has gone to the Allies. The Iraqi conquest of Saudi Arabia has been forestalled. But what next? It is possible, of course, that Iraq will strike at the allies. As each day goes by, however, that becomes less likely. Nor is it by any means impossible that Iraq, with its back to the wall and isolated even within the Arab world, will launch a surprise attack against Israel, to turn a blatant act of aggression against a Muslim and Arab neighbour into an Arab-Israeli confrontation. In either case, that would mean war.
But, what if Saddam Hussein does not strike? Of course, we all wish to see the crisis resolved without further military action, but, barring a coup in Baghdad, that seems increasingly unlikely. It is argued from many quarters that we should allow time to let sanctions work, but what
It is true that the United Nations has never been so unanimous in the face of aggression. It is important that the international coalition that has been put in place should be kept in being as far as possible. It is also true that, given Iraq's geographic position and the political line-up against her, there is greater prospect of sanctions being effective in this case than in any other. No Iraqi oil 888 is being exported and no oil revenues earned. Even so, it will be many months before the oil embargo brings Saddam Hussein to his knees.
The logic of the position adopted by those opposed to allied military action in any circumstances is that they favour a policy of mass starvation of the Iraqi nation, and the hostages being held by Iraq, and ultimately, if that policy were to fail, there would be an ignominious withdrawal by the allies. That would leave Saddam Hussein as the victor, the conqueror of Kuwait, possessed of weapons of mass destruction posing a constant and immediate threat to Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf states. That would be a catastrophe of enormous proportions which would leave Iraq's Arab neighbours and Israel at the mercy of a monster who has chemical weapons at his disposal that he has repeatedly used against combatants and non-combatants alike in the Iran-Iraq war, and even against his own civilian population in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Today, Iraq possesses not only chemical weapons, but biological ones, together with the means of dispensing them by air, by multiple rocket launchers, with Frog and Scud missiles. The Scud missiles have been modified by the Iraqis to give them a range of 600 km and they now hold the entire population of Israel under threat. It will not be long before Iraq acquires nuclear weapons, which it has been working to secure for more than a decade.
If there is to be peace and stability in this part of the middle east, Kuwait must be liberated, Iraq deprived of its weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein defeated. That will almost certainly require military action. By taking the initiative, the allies will drastically reduce the casualties to our own forces, as well as limit the suffering and loss of life among the Iraqi population that would result from a prolonged siege.
Britain's prompt deployment of Royal naval ships and Royal Air Force squadrons to the Gulf was an entirely appropriate response to deter the invasion of Saudi Arabia and enforce a naval blockade.
§ Mr. Churchill
I am sorry, but I shall not give way.
The confrontation in the Gulf is now moving into a new phase, with more than 100,000 United States forces so far deployed. If Kuwait is to be liberated, Britain must play her part on the ground as well as in the air and at sea. The time has come to deploy to the Gulf ground forces with elements of 5 Airborne Brigade, 3 Royal Marine commando brigade and armoured forces. It is becoming urgent for a unified allied military command to be established under a United States supreme allied commander. That must be a structure in which Britain, as well as Saudi Arabia, plays its part.
We have full confidence in our armed forces; there are none finer in the world. We know that they will acquit themselves with distinction if they are called upon to engage the enemy. As a precursor to the liberation of Kuwait, if our own and allied casualites are to be kept to a minimum, which is of the essence, the allies must not shirk from making a pre-emptive strike, if need be, to take out Iraq's air force, missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Thereafter, the Iraqi army, the fifth largest in the world, will be at the mercy of the high-tech weapons deployed by the allies. The crews of Iraq's 5,000 tanks will be running for all they are worth to escape their fiery coffins.
889 Let there be no doubt that time is running out for Saddam Hussein. Let the message go out from this House today that if Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States decide on military action to resolve the crisis, they can count on the full-hearted support of the House and the nation.
§ Mr. David Young (Bolton, South-East)
There is little divergence of view in the House about the action that has so far been taken. But there are no winners in war. While war might eventually happen, we must give sanctions a chance and try to see that diplomacy and sanctions create the result that we want to achieve.
There is no anti-Americanism in asking that militarily we proceed under the rule of the United Nations. If a pre-emptive strike allowed it to be argued that America had used an international force to secure national oil interests, that would be the death of the United Nations for the foreseeable future.
The Arabs represent the key to achieving a solution. The average Arab sees America as the country that could have brought the Israeli Government to the conference table and, that opportunity having been ignored, he then watched on his television the smashing of the limbs of prisoners held by the Israelis.
We seek the removal of Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait without conditions being applied to that withdrawal. The settlement thereby achieved must represent the backcloth to future peace throughout the middle east, with countries of Arab and other nationalities conforming to the same rule of law. We are seeking not simply to put down one dictator but to preserve everlasting peace in an area in which war may come to the people not only of that area but of the whole world.
I beg that the refugees in Jordan are seen as people whose only fault was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The whole world must help to resolve their plight.
I have constituents who are relations of people held in Iraq. They do not want to hear threats about bringing dictators to trial. That does not make them feel that their relations, who might have to give evidence, will be safe. They appreciate that the blackmail that Saddam Hussein is attempting to inflict cannot determine British policy. But the refugees are our people and we must seek not only to get them all returned but give active Government support financially to the relations here. For example, a constituent of mine had her quarterly telephone bill doubled when her husband was mising for just 10 days. Such people require Government as well as voluntary support.
I shall support the steps that are being taken so long as we proceed under the aegis of the United Nations. In saying that, I believe that I speak for hon. Members in all parts of the House.
§ Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate very much your difficulty in balancing the debate and in calling speakers. However, it is important to point out that men make wars and that women bear the consequences. Not one women Member from any party has been called—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. This takes time out of the winding-up speeches. I have done my best to balance this debate. Even if we had had a four-day debate, it would have been difficult to get every hon. Member in.
§ Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The whole country will have noticed that out of the many speakers, the only woman called was the Prime Minister. The country will have taken note of the fact that this institutional sexism leads to a less balanced and less representative debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
I believe that the whole House accepts that we are all elected here as Members of Parliament to represent our constituents.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)
The Opposition asked for the recall of Parliament because we felt that there was an important role for the House of Commons to play in defining the nature of the crisis caused by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the response that our country and the world community should make to that crisis and the outcome that we wish to see. The debate has justified the recall.
Why has the world reacted so unprecedentedly to Iraq's invasion and illegal annexation of Kuwait? Some say that the response is simply a self-interested western reaction motivated by concern for oil prices and for oil supplies. I respond to those who offer that argument with a question. Why did Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait? It was not for some noble ideal and it was not even because of his grievance about the adequacy of Iraq's outlet to the Gulf. Saddam Hussein committed his aggression precisely and solely for oil—its production level and its price.
The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) said yesterday that if Kuwait grew carrots rather than pumped oil, our forces would not be there. If Kuwait grew carrots rather than pumped oil, Saddam Hussein would not have invaded Kuwait.
It is entirely proper that Saddam Hussein's aggression should receive a response, although it is far less proper that the petrol companies should so greedily seek to cash in on a grave crisis. British service men are not readily accepting the hazards and hardships of service in Saudi Arabia to defend the right of BP and of Esso to put up their prices.
The response is not solely a western response. The most significant aspect of the reaction is its near universality—from the Soviet Union, from China, from our Commonwealth partner Australia, from the non-aligned countries and from the Arab and Islamic countries. It is a global response and that is right, because the crisis is a global crisis. Saddam Hussein has not simply sought to obliterate a small neighbour. He has destabilised the Arab world and split the League of Arab States. He has destabilised the Islamic world from the Atlantic to the bay of Bengal.
Saddam Hussein has done a cynical disservice to the cause of the Palestinians whom he claims to champion. He has created a horrific refugee problem on his border with Jordan. He is callously victimising fellow Muslims and others from the third world. He has taken innocent women, children and men from many countries as hostages to act as a human shield behind which his army can hide. He has brought crisis, anguish and economic misery to third-world countries such as India, Pakistan 891 and Bangladesh. Above all, he has raised the spectre of a chemical and nuclear war which would not stop short at the immediate middle eastern region, but could engulf the whole world. That is why the response to his aggression has been a world response and an unprecedented response.
The response has been twofold because the problem is twofold. First, there is the determination of the United Nations Security Council to oust Iraq from Kuwait. Let us be clear. Every one of the Security Council's resolutions has specifically laid down that the withdrawal should be unconditional, and unconditional means no concessions to Iraq. Resolution 660 perfectly properly recommends intensive negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait for resolution of their differences but negotiation must be after Iraq has withdrawn. As resolution 661 lays down, it must be afterthe sovereignty, independence and territorial integrityof Kuwait has been restored.
When I meet the Kuwaiti Government in exile in Taif next week, I shall tell them of my party's support for that objective and the measures adopted by the United Nations to achieve that objective, including the stringent sanctions laid down in resolution 661 and the naval interception and interdiction authorised by resolution 665—a resolution for which I, on behalf of the Labour party, repeatedly pressed. I shall tell them that we shall support an air blockade if that is what the Security Council authorises. I am glad that the United States Secretary of State, Mr. James Baker, has made clear this week that an air blockade depends on obtaining a Security Council resolution. If the international community persists with these measures, and maintains its unity, sense of common purpose and determination, sanctions can succeed. We must make sure that they do succeed.
The second response has been to the threat by Iraq to Saudi Arabia. That threat is based not on the jihad—the holy war—that Saddam Hussein has belatedly proclaimed, but on his greed for Saudi oil as well and on the stranglehold on the world economy that possession of such oil would give him. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein meant to go into Saudi Arabia. That is why it was not only proper but essential to deter such an attack by the speedy deployment of outside forces, requested by Saudi Arabia under article 51 of the United Nations charter. Earlier today, the Secretary of State for Defence made it clear that our forces in Saudi Arabia are there at the specific invitation of the Saudi Arabian Government, under article 51.
When I meet the Saudi Government the day after tomorrow, I shall tell them that the Labour party fully supports the measures taken under proper United Nations authority, to ensure that their country is not raped as Kuwait was.
§ Mr. Flannery
We are in the Gulf under the auspices of the United Nations, not selectively but totally. Is the Labour party now to be selective? Will we decide that article 51, which the Prime Minister loves dearly, will allow us to attack? That is the problem that worries many honourable and sincere Members.
§ Mr. Kaufman
My hon. Friend has raised a point to which I shall be coming in detail.
The lawful and necessary deterrence of the threatened invasion of Saudi Arabia requires the assistance—assistance invited by Saudi Arabia, as is her right—of forces from other countries, from the United States, from 892 Egypt, from Syria, Morocco, Pakistan and Britain. When I visit members of our service units in the Gulf next week I shall tell them—our constituents and the husbands, sons and brothers of our constituents—that they have the full support of Her Majesty's Opposition in the job that they are doing to stop a second Iraqi invasion.
We in the Labour party are sure that both operations are essential and that both are clearly authorised under United Nations resolutions and the United Nations charter. From the day that this crisis broke, the Labour party has advocated and supported action to reverse Iraqi aggression and to deter further aggression. We have advocated throughout that such action should take place under the clear and unquestionable authority of the United Nations charter. We welcome the consistent record of the United Nations and the consistent record of the United Kingdom Government in taking action only under the clear and unquestionable authority of the United Nations.
If there is a vote today, we shall vote for the Adjournment of the House to express our satisfaction that all action taken so far has been of a kind that we have advocated. We shall be voting on what has been done so far. We shall not be voting to give a blank cheque for whatever action may be taken in the future. No Government in a democracy could expect such a blank cheque and no Opposition, however loyal, could sign one.
We urge that all action taken by the United Nations and by the Government will in future continue to be of the kind that we continue to advocate. If it is, we shall welcome it, as we have welcomed action so far. We believe that any further operations found necessary, such as an air blockade, should, like operations already undertaken, be clearly and unequivocally authorised by the United Nations.
When, early in the crisis, the Government informed me that they believed that United Nations authority under article 51 could be argued for a naval blockade, I, having called for a naval blockade immediately Iraq invaded, responded that being able to argue a case under article 51 was not as satisfactory as being able to demonstrate clear and unequivocal authority. By going back to the Security Council for a resolution, the Government eventually and rightly took that course. It will always be better for the Government and our other partners and allies to take that course. It is not enough to be able to argue a technical case under article 51. The Soviet Union, China, the Arab nations and many others must be convinced of the appropriateness of action if it is to win consent and carry support.
The Prime Minister said yesterday:
We will need to look to the future, the time when Iraq has withdrawn from Kuwait, as it must, and the legitimate Government have been restored. There will then need to be arrangements to ensure Kuwait's security and that of other countries in the region. I believe that this will need to involve the United Nations." [Official Report, 7 September 1990; Vol. 177, c.742.]The Prime Minister was absolutely right to say that. It is a course of action that we, too, have consistently advocated. If the United Nations is to take the action that the Prime Minister proposes, as I hope that it will, it needs to continue to maintain its coherence and its effectiveness. It can do so only if its approach since the crisis began is maintained and safeguarded. If the international consensus is broken as a result of action that key permanent members of the Security Council either cannot 893 support or actively oppose, not only will there not be an effective United Nations machinery available to police a settlement but there will not be a settlement to police.
It is crucial that there be such a settlement and that the objectives of the two operations now in progress be achieved, because, even if we achieve these objectives, as we must, the middle east will be no more at peace than it was five weeks ago before Saddam Hussein committed his aggression. The Palestinians will still be denied their right to self-determination and huge numbers of Palestinian refugees will still be rotting in refugee camps. Israel will still be eyeball to eyeball with Syria and in a state of war with Jordan. Lebanon will still be a tormented land, with foreign hostages, including John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Jackie Mann from Britain, held there and foreign troops from Syria and Israel installed there. The whole region will still be a bazaar in which arms are sold to the highest bidder, or doled out free to the most congenial recipient. The middle east will still be a powder keg liable to explode, as it has exploded so often before.
That is why, on behalf of our party, I have advocated that once Iraq is expelled from Kuwait—I repeat, once Iraq is expelled from Kuwait—and only after our objectives are clearly achieved, there must then be an international conference, under United Nations auspices, to negotiate a settlement of these dangerous issues.
When I made that proposal last weekend, a foolish newspaper, which used to carry some authority in this country, derided my party's policy as being somehow a kind of concession to Saddam Hussein. We cannot allow Saddam Hussein to dictate the middle east agenda, either positively or negatively.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not giving way, but I do not wish to take up the Foreign Secretary's time.
An international conference on the middle east has long been advocated by the British Government. I see that the Prime Minister nods. She, on behalf of the Government, and her Foreign Secretaries have consistently advocated such a conference. It has been advocated by other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and by the Israeli Labour party, the League of Arab States and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. I believe that this conference should seek urgent negotiations, involving all relevant participants, on a comprehensive middle east settlement.
Such a settlement should result in peace treaties between Israel and Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It should require the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon. It should provide for Palestinian self-determination. It should make provision to find a decent solution for the running sore of the Palestinian refugees, which for so long has been an affront to common humanity. Such a settlement should be acceptable to all parties. Oil revenues can be among the sources of funds to deal with this problem. The conference should provide built-in guarantees for the security both of Israel and of all other participating countries. It should seek to rid the middle east of nuclear and chemical weapons and to prevent any further nations from acquiring a nuclear or chemical 894 capability. An international code of practice must be adopted to limit and control arms sales in the region which, as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait makes clear, have been an almost criminal self-indulgence by too many countries. Such an agenda is formidable and daunting. Its achievement will be extremely difficult, but we must adopt this agenda.
I was greatly encouraged when this week, addressing the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, Secretary of State James Baker said:Once the present danger passes, we cannot let its lessons go unheeded … We seek a region in which change can occur and legitimate security concerns can be preserved and preserved peacefullyby the building of what Secretary of State Baker calleda more durable order.He referred particularly to making today's crisisa springboard for revived efforts to resolve the conflicts, including the festering conflict between Israel and its Palestinian and Arab neighbours".What Secretary of State Baker advocates, we on the Opposition Benches advocate.
I was greatly encouraged as well when the Soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, advocated an international conference on the middle east. It is good to see the two super-powers in harmony. We look forward to that harmony being reinforced by the Helsinki summit this weekend. It is very encouraging that it was President Bush who took the initiative in calling that summit.
This new harmony is the key to success. Many people, including right hon. and hon. Members in this debate, have asked why we should react with such vehemence and stringency to the Iraqi aggression when other aggressions in the past have not evoked a comparable response. It is very easy to understand why hon. Members who are concerned about the situation in one place or another where aggressive acts have taken place should ask why it is only now and in this instance that action has been taken, and why other instances have been allowed to go by. The reason is that in the case of those other aggressions there was division among the permanent members of the Security Council which precluded or frustrated action, or even brought about vetoes when action was attempted.
The founders of the United Nations constructed a system that would work only if the five permanent members were in agreement. For 45 years the cold war prevented such agreement; now it can be and has been achieved, and there is the possibility of a new era in international relations in which the United Nations can work as it was always meant to work. Now, when we demonstrate to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations will not allow aggression to pay, not only will it send Saddam Hussein back out of Kuwait, but it will tell anyone else in any other part of the world who wants to try the same game that they will meet the same fate.
Mr. Secretary Baker rightly drew attention to the end of the cold war as the explanation for the historic international reaction to the invasion of Kuwait. He said:Together we are finding common interest which will united the East and the West. Partnership is replacing conflict".This crisis, for which Parliament has been recalled, is the first demonstration of that partnership. The crisis remains dangerous; it will remain dangerous for some time to come —perhaps a considerable time. We shall have daunting challenges to meet and grave decisions to make, and we shall have to meet those challenges and make those decisions on the basis of the principles of the United 895 Nations, which has taken action to deal with this crisis. Let us hope that we can continue to make those decisions together: I am sure that that is the nation's wish.
Yet the remarkable international response to the crisis not only strengthens our resolution but gives us hope—hope that, in this new era, new aggressions can be prevented and long-standing problems can be resolved. In "Henry IV, Part I", Shakespeare put into Hotspur's mouth the words:Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.With resolution and unity, from the nettle of Saddam Hussein's aggression we can pluck the flower of lasting peace in the middle east.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd)
This has been a strong and thoughtful debate, and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) has just made a strong and thoughtful speech. There have been no differences in the analysis of the aggression, or about what needs to be done to reverse it; there has been the occasional difference over how to do that but, with some tiny exceptions, we have had a calm debate.
Nevertheless, the fact is that there is anxiety, there is tension and there is danger in the air. I found the same in the Gulf when I visited our own communities there. It is worth remembering that we have many more subjects in the Gulf and the surrounding countries than any other foreign country has—nearly 40,000, in all kinds of occupations and professions. I found them overwhelmingly leading normal lives and reading with amazement the accounts of their being gripped by panic, or of the area being on the edge of war.
That is because the days of immediate, acute danger have passed, thanks to the prompt response of the United States and the United Kingdom above all. Often as I went around and listened to the thanks that we received for that action and saw the high level of trust and standing in which we are now held in those Gulf states I thought of the old proverb, "He gives twice who gives quickly". I learned that there are several Arab equivalents to that proverb.
The aggressor is still in Kuwait. The wrong has not been put right and therefore the danger is still there. We have to build up pressures on the aggressor until they become intolerable and Iraq has to leave Kuwait. I believe that there are three pressures—isolation, sanctions, and the certainty that he will lose. I shall say a word about each of those three.
First, I must pick up on one of the refrains of this debate, which was quite naturally the hostages. When I speak of hostages, I am not forgetting those held in Lebanon. There was a timely petition at the beginning of today's debate. I am not forgetting Mr. Richter who is in prison in Baghdad or Mr. Cooper who is in prison in Iran. We are in touch with the relatives of all these people.
I shall say a few words about the much larger number of hostages in Iraq and Kuwait. The House represents those people and their families. In the debate it was striking that not one hon. Member argued that because of the plight, anxiety, unhappiness and suffering of the hostages and their families we should weaken or temper this country's resistance to aggression. That is a striking and welcome fact, and I believe that they accept that. It is a hard thing to say, but a necessary thing to say. In return, 896 they are entitled to something that they have—our undertaking that we shall not forget them or in any way relax our efforts to get them out safe and sound.
Let me give a few facts about the hostages. A total of 510 nationals have now been evacuated from Iraq and Kuwait since 1 September. The first group of 206 came on an Iraqi Airways flight from Baghdad on I September, and the second group of 57 came by Virgin Airways flight from Amman on the fifth. I am glad to say that, as the House knows, the third group arrived in the early hours of this morning—247 women and children from Amman on a British Airways flight. We believe that about 240 British women and children are in Baghdad waiting for exit visas from the Iraqi authorities. We and our embassy hope that we can arrange for their evacuation by Iraqi Airways to Amman and then by a British airline to London on Sunday 9 September.
Most of those people originated from Kuwait and were moved to Baghdad either in bus convoys arranged by the British embassy in Kuwait or by the Iraqis. We think it likely, although we cannot be sure, that almost all the women and children who wish to leave Kuwait have now had the opportunity to do so. Many are still there having decided, given the agonising and intolerable choice, that they would rather stay with their husbands.
I asked our ambassador, Mr. Walker, to go back to our embassy in Baghdad after the invasion. I am glad that our embassy there is at full strength. The staff there are working day and night to find the facts, to find the people and to help them home safe and sound.
At our embassy in Kuwait the ambassador and three colleagues are blockaded in. Nothing can come in as it is ringed by armed soldiers and no one can go out. Despite that, through the warden system, they have been able to organise two sizeable convoys from Kuwait to Baghdad.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward), who explained to the House why he could riot be here, made an effective speech on this subject. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have seen for ourselves, the work that he has done in the Connaught Rooms with Gulf Helpline has been notable. Of course, he is quite right and we in the Foreign Office have to learn lessons from the first few weeks after the invasion in particular. I hope that the media listened to the remarks of my hon. Friend and will have noted the strong support in all parts of the House for the points that he made, not only on his own behalf but on behalf of the hostages and, more particularly, their relatives and friends in this country.
I turn to the wider question which, quite rightly, has been a big refrain in the debate. I refer to the evacuees at the three camps in Jordan and elsewhere. They comprise Asians and Arabs, but overwhelmingly Asians who have fled from Saddam Hussein. There are now at least 60,000 new refugees or evacuees in the three camps in Jordan. A total of 190,000 refugees have so far been repatriated from Jordan by a mixture of various commercial flights and flights organised by individual Governments and the international relief organisations.
Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave details of the help that we have provided, including the £5.5 million given to the International Organisation for Migration. The IOM is organising 55 flights over the next few days to repatriate 9,000 refugees, most of them Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis.
I listened carefully to the ideas put forward in the debate, notably by hon. Friends the Member for Arundel 897 (Sir M. Marshall) and for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price). We shall see which of those ideas are practicable. A crucial point made to me by the Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan, who has particularly interested himself in the question, is that we do not want to establish fresh camps. Jordan has enough camps full of refugees. What is needed now is to get those refugees home. Of course, they must be fed and be given the medicine that they need as soon as possible, but above all we must get them home. We want to get on with doing that as part of the international effort. We have already helped to co-ordinate evacuation flights through the IOM, and we are looking urgently—
§ Mr. Hurd
May I please get on?
We are looking urgently at further areas of help. I have asked my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development to go to Jordan early next week—on Tuesday, I hope—to supervise our part in the operation and to assess what else needs to be done.
I turn to the three pressures on the aggressor that I mentioned earlier. The first is isolation. Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) made a notable speech about the unique coalition that has been formed between the United States, Canada and Europe, co-ordinated through the Western European Union.
§ Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)
Will my right hon. Friend allow me to intervene? Is he aware that I have attended every moment of this debate, both yesterday and today, because I believe that it is the most important debate since I first entered the House 20 years ago? It has been very heartening to witness the degree of support that exists in the House. Is my right hon. Friend aware also that the European Parliament is holding an emergency debate next Wednesday, when the other countries of Europe will be able to express their support for the action that has been taken, their abhorrence at the barbarity that has occurred, and their determination that no gain should come of it?
§ Mr. Hurd
Any expression, particularly by elected representatives in whatever Parliament, which rams home the lesson that my hon. Friend mentions—as that of the Inter-Parliamentary Union has already done—will be very welcome.
I mentioned the isolation of the aggressor and the coalition that has been formed against him. I visited some of the Gulf states and talked to some of the leaders of the Arab part of that coalition. I hope to visit Egypt—one of the other major leaders—before too long.
§ Mr. Hurd
No, I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have a good deal of ground to cover in replying to right hon. and hon. Members who have already spoken.
I found our Arab friends—the majority of those in the Arab League—staunch in the face of the current situation. One or two, such as the Kuwait Government in exile, are naturally impatient, but in all the conversations that I had 898 with Governments, I found an understanding that patience is needed as well as firmness. It was interesting that the journalists accompanying me were constantly asking the Arabs whether they would remain constant and firm, whereas the Arabs were constantly asking me whether we in the west would remain constant and firm. I think that the truth is that both will, but it was borne in on me how much mutual reassurance is needed all the time. I welcome the news that the right hon. Member for Gorton will be going to the middle east because he will contribute to that process.
In my conversations, particularly with King Fahd and his notable Foreign Minister, Prince Saud, I found a concern about all those who are looking for a middle way which falls short of the resolutions of the Security Council and the Arab League. I want to say a word about that, particularly in connection with what has been said in the House about Jordan.
I do not believe that the Jordanian Government or the King of Jordan have in some way been an accomplice or a tool of Saddam Hussein. In his conversations with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and with me the day before yesterday the king made it clear that he believed that the annexation of Kuwait was unjustified, that it must end and that Jordan must apply the mandatory sanctions.
As many hon. Members have pointed out, Jordan is an old friend and deserves of us understanding of her real problems. We have shown that understanding on the clear assumption that Jordan fully applies the mandatory sanctions.
In that case, surely the Government could do something about organising an immediate airlift of refugees out of Jordan. If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that that is to happen, let us have some concrete action immediately.
§ Mr. Hurd
Yes, I am being selective, as is my right.
What is not right or realistic—this is where we part company with the Jordanian analysis—is to search for some compromise which falls short of the full reversing of the aggression. We—the international community—cannot afford to allow Saddam Hussein to go smiling home out of Kuwait with two islands or an oilfield in his pocket. The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) was clear about that, and his analysis was very good.
Occasionally, I read in the newspapers accounts of supposed equivocation in the Saudi attitude. Prince Saud made it clear to me and to the BBC publicly that if the Arabs were to allow or to contemplate such a middle way, falling short of the reversal of aggression, the Arabs would have settled for something less, something lower than the international community was insisting on. He, one of the 899 prime leaders of the Arab part of our coalition, was clear that the Arabs would not, and could not afford to, go down that particular path.
§ Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that matter, will he clarify one point that seems to be in doubt? The Prime Minister said yesterday that she felt that she had the legal authority under the charter to take military action without going back to the Security Council. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the Government believe that they have the right to take military action against Iraq without the consent of the Saudi Government?
§ Mr. Hurd
I shall come to the question of military action a little later if I may.
I come now to the points made by many hon. Members about the Palestinian question and the welcome that was given to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday on the subject. I have been saying the same thing on my journeys around the Gulf. This is another dispute and another, though different, set of fears and injustices. We in the western part of the coalition have to show that we understand that. Saddam Hussein has given the Palestinians a major blow and the major mistake that Mr. Arafat has made in supporting him simply illustrates the point. They have postponed the day when the question can be justly and equitably settled, and the Palestinians need to understand that. However, we need to show that we have not forgotten. I have discussed this matter twice with Mr. Baker, the United States Secretary of State, since the invasion. As the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did, I welcome what he said and the prominence given to his words when he spoke to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the house of Representatives. His use of the word "springboard" was apt, and we must build on it. I am sure that the House would wish us to do so.
I am sorry that I missed the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow). He referred to a war of ideas. He was right to say that getting the right messages through to Iraq is crucial. At every port of call in the Gulf I discussed with our friends how we and they could help each other to make that happen.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)
As broadcasts in Iraq are jammed, would there be some merit in considering, with the United Nations, a leaflet drop to its population?
§ Mr. Hurd
I have a certain amount of ground still to cover, so I should prefer not to take any further interventions. Otherwise, I shall not conclude by 2.30 pm.
I come to the second form of pressure on the aggressor—that of sanctions. I draw attention to the press notice just issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, which reminds British business men of the severe penalties that they will suffer if they break the sanctions. I need not say a great deal about that as the ground was fully covered by my right hon. and hon. Friends yesterday. The oil trade on which Iraq relies for its foreign currency has been virtually stopped. Iraq will not run out of oil, but it should 900 run out of money. Quite apart from the difficulties of getting other goods into Iraq, the number of people who would be prepared to supply Iraq without payment will be fairly limited. That illustrates the importance of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday about finances. As he said, it is crucial that the financial tap is turned off. That means that all Governments must ensure that Iraq cannot trade, cannot obtain access to Kuwait's assets and cannot find ways around UN sanctions to secure credit or cash.
We froze Kuwaiti assets in Britain within hours to prevent their seizure by Iraq. Iraqi assets were frozen by Britain and by the European Community on 4 August. We must follow up all possible signs of financial and trading violations of the United Nations sanctions, and that includes working to ensure that Iraq's financial oxygen is turned off.
I want to say a word about foodstuffs because that will be a major subject for discussion during the next few weeks. Several hon. Members have refered to that in the debate. We have a clear view on that, and on the reference in the Security Council resolution to the supply of foodstuffs on humanitarian grounds. It is necessary to establish that a humanitarian need exists. It is for the Security Council, as the author of the resolution, and not for individual states, to make that determination. The details of that are now under active discussion in the sanctions committee in New York and it may be that an objective examination of the case is needed. The House will surely agree that we cannot allow Saddam Hussein, the aggressor, to manipulate the subject to his own advantage. The humanitarian clause must be objectively assessed and decided by those who are responsible for the resolution.
I do not want, and neither do I have the time, to go into detailed questions of past dealings with Iraq. I expect that there will be occasions on which the House will return to that matter, when the historians will pore over it. I was asked about a particular office. Any office in Britain that is run by anyone is subject to our law. That has meant that no Iraqi office in the past could be used for the procurement of arms or banned technology. That has been the position since our arms embargo took effect more than 10 years ago. At present, no such office can be used for the procurement of any goods that are subject to sanctions, and they cover virtually the entire range. We must be vigilant, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has to operate within our rules. If there were evidence of any office run by anyone operating against our laws, that would lead to prosecution and the consequences of that if any individual were found guilty.
§ Mr. Hurd
The third pressure on the aggressor should be, and is, the certainty that he will lose. The more I think about it and the more I listen to people throughout the world, the more I believe that it is the crucial pressure. The House has accepted that it is. We were told in the press that the House would be dominated by legal argument about article 51 and the basis of self-defence. That has not turned out to be so. The House has accepted—not universally, but overwhelmingly, and certainly that is the position between the two Front Benches—that the military option cannot be excluded. The Leader of the Opposition, in the legal part of his speech, accepted that one basis for that could be article 51 joined with a request from the Kuwaiti Government.
The great preoccupation with legalisms, which could have spoiled the debate substantially, has not occurred. The legal question is not for discussion. The question which is being discussed is the wisdom and efficacy of the way in which we should proceed and not so much the legal basis.
We believe that it must be right to hold together to the greatest possible extent the coalition of which I have spoken. That must be sensible and right. It must be right to time and organise measures with that aim in mind. I ask those who have emphasised that—I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Walsall, North and others who emphasised this approach—to consider a further matter. It cannot be right to put the choice entirely and wholly within the machinery of the United Nations. We know that machinery. We know that it includes vetoes and—[Interruption.] That reaction suggests that some hon. Members have not seriously considered the matter. We cannot leave open the possibility that necessary action against the aggressor would be blocked by such means. If we were to leave open that possibility, we would leave open the possibility that he might go away rejoicing in possession of Kuwait. The House has undertaken and said that the first priority must be to prevent that from happening.
The logic of the argument points to two conclusions. First, it must be right to keep together to the maximum extent the coalition of which we are talking. Secondly, and crucially, it cannot be right wholly to subordinate our action to the machinery of United Nations. The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), who was the proponent of the argument, is creating an uncertainty where certainty is necessary. The certainty that the aggressor will lose—that he will be be stopped, to use the expression of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—is crucial to a peaceful solution. If that certainty is qualified by some doubt, by some feeling in the mind of the aggressor that he might escape with his booty, the chances of a peaceful solution are reduced.
§ Mr. Hurd
I must get on. Some queries have been raised that I shall solve by carrying on, as I said I would do.
There have been questions about command and control. I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. Earlier, he spoke of the work in process to ensure that the command and control arrangements are properly co-ordinated in the region. The first priority has been to get forces into the region to ensure 902 the defence of Saudi Arabia and other states. The work now is to ensure that the forces of the different countries are properly co-ordinated, and that work is in hand.
As for air operations, each nation retains command of its own forces, but arrangements for effective co-ordination have been made, and are being strengthened, between the Saudis, the United States and us. The naval forces are already being co-ordinated. I saw that when I visited HMS Battleaxe in Doha harbour. As more ships arrive, that work will become more complex and there will be meetings in the next few days to strengthen the co-ordination, including that taking place through the Western European Union.
There has rightly been much reference to the future. On my visit to the Gulf, I found that the more forward-looking people were looking ahead to the future, and we should do so also.
There has been some autobiography during the debate and I shall not weary the House with mine. The first time I went to the Gulf was with my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), when we were in opposition, arguing strongly against the policy of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) of withdrawal from the Gulf. In 1971, it was judged that it was too late to reverse that decision, and the orthodoxy for years after that was that there was no place in the collective security of the Gulf for a western effort. That orthodoxy has been challenged twice in the past few years, not by us, but by the states in the area. During the Iran-Iraq war, and again in the past few days, they have asked us back. That is the background to the discussion of the future.
There is no question of imposing a system; it has to be collective, perhaps through the United Nations, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister suggested. It must include the effort to deal with weapons, the dangers of which have been stressed in this debate. We cannot be more precise at present. I simply say, and I hope that the House will agree, that if there were such a collective effort, invitation and request, our history, aptitudes and interests would incline us to agree.
What is at stake has been fairly clearly identified in the House. The moving speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) illustrates from his angle, and with his vocabulary and experience, the point in many of our minds. We all share the hope of a better world order, and we all know that that has ceased to be a platitude and a hope so distant that we just talk about it and nothing happens. It has become almost a real hope because of the ending of the cold war, the leadership given by the United States' President and the welcome change in the policies of President Gorbachev. I shall be in Moscow next week and have an opportunity to explore those points with Mr. Shevardnadze.
Some people, particularly Opposition Members, talk of this development in terms of great aspirations and the brotherhood of man. I see it in more traditional, Tory terms, a concert of nations, and so does the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, who is a good Tory under the skin. I see it in Tory terms as an increasingly effective concert of nations acting in sensible self interest for the preservation and extension of international order. The real question for the House is whether this moment of brightness and reassurance, which the House has often discussed and which we have seen in the past 12 months across Europe, South Africa and elsewhere, is a purely fleeting moment or whether we can make it endure.
903 At stake is, of course, the future of Kuwait, the future of the hostages and the happiness and peace of many hundreds of thousands of people. But something else is at stake. If this coalition which has been formed against aggression holds together and reverses the aggression, the prospects of which I have been talking remain good.
If it does not—if, despite the new efficiency of the UN, despite the coalition, despite the European cohesion, despite the excellent leadership of the United States and despite the adhesion of the majority of the Arab world—then we are back into anarchy punctuated by explosions of force. The clouds would have extinguished that possible light and hope.
So we must do all we can to prevent that defeat and to secure that success and that reversal of aggression. We are working and shall work hard for that purpose. We shall work on the side of international order and, therefore, on the side of hope.
§ It being half-past Two o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Resolution yesterday, to put the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ The House divided: Ayes 437, Noes 35.906
|Division No. 316]||[2.30 pm|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)|
|Allason, Rupert||Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)|
|Allen, Graham||Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)|
|Alton, David||Browne, John (Winchester)|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)|
|Amos, Alan||Buck, Sir Antony|
|Anderson, Donald||Budgen, Nicholas|
|Arbuthnot, James||Burt, Alistair|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Butcher, John|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Butterfill, John|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Caborn, Richard|
|Ashby, David||Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Carlisle, John, (Luton N)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Ashton, Joe||Carrington, Matthew|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Carttiss, Michael|
|Atkins, Robert||Cartwright, John|
|Atkinson, David||Cash, William|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Channon, Rt Hon Paul|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Chapman, Sydney|
|Baldry, Tony||Churchill, Mr|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)|
|Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Barron, Kevin||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Batiste, Spencer||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Beckett, Margaret||Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)|
|Beggs, Roy||Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)|
|Beith, A. J.||Clelland, David|
|Bell, Stuart||Coleman, Donald|
|Bendall, Vivian||Colvin, Michael|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Conway, Derek|
|Benyon, W.||Cook, Robin (Livingston)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)|
|Blair, Tony||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Cope, Rt Hon John|
|Boateng, Paul||Corbett, Robin|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Cormack, Patrick|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Couchman, James|
|Bottomley, Peter||Cox, Tom|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Cran, James|
|Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)||Crowther, Stan|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Bowis, John||Cunningham, Dr John|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)|
|Brazier, Julian||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Bright, Graham||Day, Stephen|
|Devlin, Tim||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Dicks, Terry||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Dixon, Don||Hind, Kenneth|
|Dobson, Frank||Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)|
|Doran, Frank||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Dunn, Bob||Holt, Richard|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Home Robertson, John|
|Durant, Tony||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Dykes, Hugh||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Eadie, Alexander||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Eastham, Ken||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Eggar, Tim||Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Howells, Geraint|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Evennett, David||Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Hunter, Andrew|
|Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Fearn, Ronald||Irvine, Michael|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Irving, Sir Charles|
|Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)||Jack, Michael|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Jackson, Robert|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Janman, Tim|
|Fishburn, John Dudley||Janner, Greville|
|Fisher, Mark||Jessel, Toby|
|Flynn, Paul||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Fookes, Dame Janet||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Forman, Nigel||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Forth, Eric||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Foster, Derek||Kennedy, Charles|
|Foulkes, George||Key, Robert|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Kilfedder, James|
|Franks, Cecil||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Fraser, John||King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Fyfe, Maria||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Gale, Roger||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Gardiner, George||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Knapman, Roger|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|George, Bruce||Knowles, Michael|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Knox, David|
|Gill, Christopher||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Glyn, Dr Sir Alan||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Leighton, Ron|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Lestor, Joan (Eccles)|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Lightbown, David|
|Gorst, John||Lilley, Peter|
|Gould, Bryan||Livsey, Richard|
|Graham, Thomas||Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Gregory, Conal||Lord, Michael|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Luce, Rt Hon Richard|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||McAllion, John|
|Ground, Patrick||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Hague, William||McCrindle, Robert|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)||Macdonald, Calum A.|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||McFall, John|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Macfarlane, Sir Neil|
|Hannam, John||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Hardy, Peter||McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)|
|Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')||MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||McKelvey, William|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Maclennan, Robert|
|Harris, David||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Haselhurst, Alan||McNamara, Kevin|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||McWilliam, John|
|Hawkins, Christopher||Madel, David|
|Hayes, Jerry||Maginnis, Ken|
|Haynes, Frank||Malins, Humfrey|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia||Mans, Keith|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Maples, John|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Marek, Dr John|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Marland, Paul|
|Marlow, Tony||Price, Sir David|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Radice, Giles|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Raffan, Keith|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Randall, Stuart|
|Mates, Michael||Redwood, John|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn|
|Maxton, John||Reid, Dr John|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Meacher, Michael||Richardson, Jo|
|Meale, Alan||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Michael, Alun||Robertson, George|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Miller, Sir Hal||Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
|Mills, Iain||Rogers, Allan|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Rooker, Jeff|
|Mitchell, Sir David||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Moate, Roger||Ross, William (Londonderry E)|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Rowe, Andrew|
|Moore, Rt Hon John||Rowlands, Ted|
|Morgan, Rhodri||Ruddock, Joan|
|Morley, Elliot||Ryder, Richard|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Sainsbury, Hon Tim|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Salmond, Alex|
|Morris, M (N'hampton S)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Morrison, Sir Charles||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Moss, Malcolm||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Moynihan, Hon Colin||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Mudd, David||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Murphy, Paul||Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)|
|Neale, Gerrard||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Neubert, Michael||Shersby, Michael|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Short, Clare|
|Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)||Sillars, Jim|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Sims, Roger|
|O'Brien, William||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|O'Neill, Martin||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley||Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Page, Richard||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Paice, James||Snape, Peter|
|Paisley, Rev Ian||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Speller, Tony|
|Patchett, Terry||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Patnick, Irvine||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Patten, Rt Hon John||Squire, Robin|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Pawsey, James||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|Pendry, Tom||Steen, Anthony|
|Porter, Barry (Wirral S)||Stern, Michael|
|Portillo, Michael||Stevens, Lewis|
|Powell, Ray (Ogmore)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Prescott, John||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)||Walden, George|
|Stokes, Sir John||Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Stott, Roger||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Strang, Gavin||Wallace, James|
|Straw, Jack||Waller, Gary|
|Sumberg, David||Walters, Sir Dennis|
|Summerson, Hugo||Ward, John|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)||Watts, John|
|Taylor, John M (Solihull)||Wells, Bowen|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Whitney, Ray|
|Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)||Wilkinson, John|
|Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)||Wilshire, David|
|Thorne, Neil||Winnick, David|
|Thornton, Malcolm||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Townend, John (Bridlington)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Tracey, Richard||Woodcock, Dr. Mike|
|Tredinnick, David||Yeo, Tim|
|Trimble, David||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Trippier, David||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Turner, Dennis||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Vaz, Keith||Mr. Tim Boswell and|
|Viggers, Peter||Mr. Timothy Wood.|
|Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Hinchliffe, David|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Hood, Jimmy|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hughes, John (Coventry NE)|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||Lambie, David|
|Callaghan, Jim||Lamond, James|
|Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)||Madden, Max|
|Clay, Bob||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Cohen, Harry||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Mullin, Chris|
|Cryer, Bob||Nellist, Dave|
|Cummings, John||Parry, Robert|
|Dalyell, Tam||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Douglas, Dick||Skinner, Dennis|
|Faulds, Andrew||Wray, Jimmy|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)|
|Flannery, Martin||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Galloway, George||Mr. Dennis Canavan and|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Mr. Ken Livingstone.|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.
§ The House, having continued to sit till sixteen minutes to Three o'clock, adjourned till Monday 15 October, pursuant to the Resolution yesterday.